What to do with Woodrow Wilson’s name and legacy at Princeton University

In addition to recent debates around the Confederate flag and statues and memorials to confederate war heroes have been arguments around the names of buildings on college campuses and the ways in which we should remember past historical figures who have recently become unpopular. How should we view or judge historical figures? With the standards of today? Or of their time? Important figures often leave complicated legacies that make it difficult to characterize them simply.

The case of Woodrow Wilson is an interesting one. He helped built Princeton University into much of what it is today in addition to having been a US President. At the same time he held deeply racist views and acted on those views and helped resegregate the federal workforce. How do we reconcile our views on such a person?

Below are some interesting articles on the topic.

The first one briefly summarizes the issue. The following ones are opinion pieces.

Princeton will keep Woodrow Wilson’s name on buildings, but also expand diversity efforts

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/04/04/princeton-will-keep-woodrow-wilsons-name-on-buildings-but-it-will-take-steps-to-expand-diversity-and-inclusion/

Here are four opinion pieces on the question

Erasing Woodrow Wilson’s name is not that easy

http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/30/opinions/zelizer-woodrow-wilson-princeton/

Woodrow Wilson’s racism isn’t the only reason for Princeton to shun his name

http://nypost.com/2015/12/03/woodrow-wilsons-racism-isnt-the-only-reason-for-princeton-to-shun-his-name/

The Case Against Woodrow Wilson at Princeton

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/25/opinion/the-case-against-woodrow-wilson-at-princeton.html

What Woodrow Wilson Cost My Grandfather

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/24/opinion/what-woodrow-wilson-cost-my-grandfather.html

Yale Removes Calhoun Name: We Can’t Erase History or Erase It

“One of the goals of chopping away at history is to simplify it into a simple battle between the good, who remain, and the evil, who are wiped away. But that’s not the way history works, nor is it the way politics works.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444919/yale-removes-calhoun-name-foolish-erasure-history

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