Woodrow Wilson Elementary School to be renamed to Framingham – NBC Boston

Monuments and institutions around the world are named after former US President Woodrow Wilson, including Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Framingham, Massachusetts. But there will be one less thing named in his honor amid heightened awareness of the 28th president’s past.

A months-long name change process culminated on Wednesday when the Framingham school committee voted to rename the school Harmony Grove Elementary School – A Global Academy.

“When he took office, there were a lot of African Americans working. It fired them, ruined their reputations, spread a lot of false information and also passed a law to limit black Americans in the country, ”said Laysa Mourao, a college student.

Part of Wilson’s controversial past includes his support for Jim Crow’s laws and his viewing in the White House in 1915 and his endorsement of “The Birth of a Nation,” a film credited with the rebirth of the then defunct Ku Klux Klan. , which terrorized blacks and minorities.

“Both of his parents were racist and segregationist, so he carried that into his policies,” said Jonathan Rivers, a parent from Framingham.

The new name – Harmony Grove – has special meaning. The amphitheater in the historic park was a popular meeting place for social justice activists promoting important movements like the fight against slavery and women’s rights.

“The community wants it,” said Priscila Sousa, member of the school committee. “The community believes in fairness, believes in a name that represents the student body.”

Sousa said it was a student-led effort.

“Most of my friends go to school and I’m sure a lot of them didn’t know what Woodrow Wilson was doing, who he was and what he was doing. Because I didn’t do it until I did some research, ”said college student Layla Rivers.

“I said, ‘let’s go get a petition and see what everyone thinks,’ said Layla’s father Jonathan.

Since Jonathan and Layla Rivers launched their petition last year, they have collected over 1,500 signatures to change the name of the school. While their petition was circulating, another group was also trying to convince school leaders to change their names.

“In such a diverse community, this is one of the things where I think she stands out the most for us,” Mourao said. “Mainly because there are so many people from different backgrounds.”

Once the new name is agreed, there will be an official name change ceremony in June. Everything bearing the school’s name – from signs to letterhead – is expected to be officially changed by the start of the school year in the fall.

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