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DCPS chancellor proposes name change for Woodrow Wilson High School

D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson High School may soon have a partial name change.

It would still be called “Wilson High School” by some, but its namesake would be an iconic playwright, rather than the nation’s 28th president, who was a segregationist.

On Tuesday, D.C. Public Schools’ chancellor Lewis Ferebee announced a proposal to rename it after the late August Wilson.

The Pittsburgh native’s works chronicled the African American experience in the 20th Century, in works like “Fences” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Ferebee explained that Wilson’s works have been performed on D.C. stages for decades.

“His work is part of DCPS’ high school curriculum, allowing our scholars to explore the timeless themes represented in his words and characters,” he said in a statement.

Wilson won both a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Best Play Tony Award in 1987 for “Fences.” Three years later, he won another Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “The Piano Lesson.”

The proposed name change follows over 2,000 nomination submissions and over 6,000 people sharing their opinions through a survey. DCPS said that overall, responses favored “August Wilson High School” as the preferred name — particularly among students and alumni.

“I am proud of the school community for their advocacy at this pivotal moment in the District’s history,” Ferebee said.

“At DCPS, where a majority of our school leaders and students, and nearly half of our teachers identify as Black, we are committed to fulfilling the efforts of social activism and ensuring that the names we call our schools reflect our values and commitment to diversity.”

The name change, which is subject to D.C. Council approval, could take effect as soon as this fall.

Jack Pointer

Jack Pointer is a writer and editor with a variety of news and publishing experience, including more than a decade at The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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