Camden’s Woodrow Wilson High School will now be called Eastside High to break from the segregationist views and practices of the former president and New Jersey governor.

School District Superintendent Katrina McCombs announced the new name for one of its two traditional high schools at a board advisory meeting Tuesday night. It was approved by a 6-2 vote; one board member was absent.

”The name change of our Woodrow Wilson High School shows that we heard the voices of our students and of our community,” McCombs said in a statement. “The renaming has clearly shown us all to never give up and to continue to push forward until change happens.”

The change comes almost two years after McCombs announced plans to rename the school in June 2020, citing both Wilson’s past and the protests over the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis. The district, which enrolls about 6,000 students, is primarily Black and Latino.

As president from 1913 to 1921, Wilson was known for progressive policies and leadership during World War I. But he also oversaw unprecedented segregation in federal offices, with workers separated by race.

Located on Federal Street in East Camden, Woodrow Wilson High School opened as a junior high in 1930 and became a high school three years later. Today, it is the only stand-alone traditional public high school in the district, and one of the oldest. Prominent graduates include Mike Rozer, a 1983 Heisman Trophy winner, and former Mayor Frank Moran.

A committee with more than 100 members initially started work on the name change in response to a petition. Possible names being considered at the time were former President Barack Obama, former U.S. Rep. John Lewis, and former school board member Martha Wilson.

The district halted the renaming process because of the pandemic, and the initial group was replaced with a 10-member committee that included current Wilson students, alumni, and two advisory board members. The district asked anyone interested in serving to complete a questionnaire.

Longtime community activist Jose Delgado, who lives near the school, said many stakeholders were excluded from the renaming. The former school board member said he applied to serve on the committee but was not selected.

“That is a slap in the face,” Delgado said.

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Delgado compiled his own list of possible names including baseball great Roberto Clemente; Ramon Emeterio Betances, a doctor and abolitionist; Luis Munoz Marin, the first elected governor of Puerto Rico; and Preston Gunning, a former Camden teacher and district business administrator.

Camden, operating as a state takeover district since 2013, has 17 schools. McCombs has said there are no plans to rename any other schools.

After the killings of Floyd and other Black men, protesters across the country lobbied to remove monuments and rename institutions. At Princeton University, where Wilson served as president between 1902 and 1910, students protested successfully to have his name and image removed from the Ivy League campus.

A push to rename Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., touched off a fierce debate. Many believed that the school should be renamed because of Wilson’s practices. But they were splintered on a new name. City Council eventually voted in December to rename it Jackson-Reed High School, a combination of namesakes Vince Reed, the school’s first Black principal, and Edna Jackson, its first Black teacher.

Last year, the Philadelphia School District renamed Andrew Jackson Elementary School, a slave owner, to honor Fanny Jackson Coppin, a former enslaved woman and educator.

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