PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Portland Public Schools is considering changing the names of several schools to distance itself from historical figures with problematic pasts.

In a presentation to the School Board Tuesday night, district staff outlined the process currently underway to rename Wilson High School.

The school is named after former president Woodrow Wilson, who historians say had ties to the Ku Klux Klan and is known for his attempts to segregate the federal workforce.

"In some cases, it's clear that they seem to venerate problematic historical figures whose leadership includes a legacy of deep racism and colonization," Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said at the meeting.

In public testimony, students and staff at Madison High School called on the district to also consider changing the name of Madison High School, as former president James Madison was known to own more than 100 slaves.

"I want to be proud of Madison and my school's name, but the knowledge of who James Madison was lingers on my mind when I walk into school every morning," said one Madison student, who asked to be identified only by their last name, Dabardoche.

Board members voiced support for taking a closer look at the names of several schools named after historical figures who held problematic views.

Walking outside Wilson High School, parent Molly Molloy, who has an incoming Sophomore at Wilson, echoed that sentiment.

"I support it," Molloy said. "I think it's a good idea. I think it signals to the communities of color that we support them, and we feel like it's an important thing to do."

PPS has put together a Renaming and Redefining Committee, which includes students.

The committee will begin work in September on a process to re-examine the names of schools across the district.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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(4) comments

pb sir

You would need a group of politicians (the school Board, in this case) to actually grow a set and tell these students and staff "No", we are not changing the names, period. Unfortunately, I don't expect that to happen with a bunch of liberals who do not have a spine among them...

Roberto Estrello Demar

May I suggest renaming these schools for "Bob." Or to be more precise, Bob I and Bob II. Formalize it as "Some Guy Named Bob I" and "Some Girl Named Bob II" That should be inoffensive to a great many Roberts, Bobs, Bobbys and Robertas.

Frankly, if you're not going to teach REAL history, CULTURAL history of The United States of America, it doesn't make a rodent's rump worth of difference what you call it ... it remains a failure, and an insult to our people who put all this together for us.

kyjaha

I agree with this writer. It matters not at all what these school names are, but it is the fact that we now are denying the history of white America. The fact is that historically, white Americans owned slaves. If you are offended by that history of America get yourselves a ticket and return to your ancestral homeland and put your energies into altering the history of that country. This has become ridiculous. Re-naming streets is one thing, tearing down statutes which represent the Confederacy of the southern United States, which occurred due to more then simply racism and slavery, has become a means by which to deny the history of the building of a nation from nothing into the most powerful nation ever created. Yes, slavery was a bad thing, I agree with that. However, it occurred. It is a part of the national history. My history, and your history. It didn't involve a single person who may read this, not a one. Offensive to someone who never was involved in slavery is ridiculous. If your grand parents, great grand parents were impacted by slavery , I would suggest that by remaining in America you have been advanced in your position in society simply by taking advantage of America's rise. No matter whom you may be or what anyone may have accomplished before you. This is all of our country. You cannot a and should not, be trying to erase any of that which made you you.

OriginalHBO

In the now defunct Soviet Union,all schools just had numbers,along with many of the government buildings...it was all so that no one school or building could be deemed more important than the other.It was all part of the "equality of the Collective"...no one was better,worse,more worthy,more successfull,or less of a human than any other person...that was the government of the Old Soviet Union.

We all know how that worked out in the end...

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