Shaw: Things to consider when renaming Woodrow Wilson HS
If there’s one lesson we have learned from this controversy, it’s that no school should be named after a sitting president. For that matter, a school shouldn’t be named after any politician while in office.
Now that the Fargo School Board has dropped the name of Woodrow Wilson from the community high school, it’s time to think of new names for that school. I still like naming schools after people. Outstanding people should be recognized and honored.
However, if there’s one lesson we have learned from this controversy, it’s that no school should be named after a sitting president. For that matter, a school shouldn’t be named after any politician while in office. The Fargo School Board selected the name of Woodrow Wilson in 1917, while Wilson was president. We should treat school names like the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Wait until they have retired for at least five years before selecting them.
The best Fargo school name in recent years is Davies High School, named after former federal judge Ronald Davies. Not only was Davies from Fargo, but he ordered the integration of public schools. Still, I wish the nickname of the school was, “The Judges,” but I digress. Brandeis University, named after former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, is “The Judges.” There are thousands of schools called, “The Eagles.” “The Judges” would be unique and fitting.
Shaw: Honoring Woodrow Wilson meant honoring racism, which couldn't stand
Woodrow Wilson's name dropped from Fargo high school
The renaming of Woodrow Wilson High School is a very teachable moment. The Fargo School Board should take advantage of that. Because Wilson was such a ruthless racist, I suggest we name it after someone who promoted the notion of equality and tolerance. The names that come to mind are Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anne Frank, Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler.
King, Lewis and Parks risked their lives in pushing for civil rights, and of course King was assassinated because of it. Tubman was an escaped slave, who could have been killed, while courageously rescuing 70 other slaves.
Ginsburg did exceptional work in her lifelong effort to achieve equal rights for women.
Frank was amazingly optimistic about life with all the evil and mass murder around her. Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. Sad to say, he was arrested by the Soviets and died in a Soviet prison. Schindler, from the movie, “Schindler’s List,” saved 1,200 Jews from certain death in the Holocaust, while losing his family fortune in the process.
All of these people were real heroes. They did extraordinary things during very difficult times that should inspire us at all. I should also mention that there is only one school in Fargo, Clara Barton, named after a woman. There are no schools in Fargo named after a person of color.
A school named after one of the people I suggest could and should teach about that person’s life. If I was still young enough, I would be proud to attend a school named after King, Lewis, Parks, Tubman, Ginsburg, Frank, Wallenberg or Schindler.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.