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List of Potential Names for Wilson High School Ready for Public Comment

[Posted December 18, 2020]

On Tuesday, December 15, Wilson Principal Filip Hristic announced the five candidates to replace Woodrow Wilson as the school’s namesake along with a request for further input from the community. Members of the community can participate in the final selection process by contributing feedback on each of the proposed names online until January 1, 2021.

Calls to strip the name of President Woodrow Wilson from the high school that sits in the center of Hillsdale gained support last spring amid the movement for social justice that surged across the country. Woodrow Wilson is now known as much for the racism of his personal views and some of his domestic policies as for his role as a founder of the League of Nations and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. His name has already been removed from the prestigious school of international affairs at Princeton University and other public institutions.

As previously reported by the Hillsdale News, an online petition created by students and staff gathered more than 5,000 signatures in support of a name change, and Wilson Principal Filip Hristic made a formal request to begin the name change process. With approval from the PPS School Board, a committee to choose a new name was formed in October. Suggestions were collected via an online form through November.

The renaming committee, made up of students, staff, administrators and community members, has considered over 600 responses to the online suggestion form to produce a list of five finalists: Beatrice Morrow Cannady, a founder of the Oregon chapter of the NAACP and the first Black woman to practice law in Oregon; Judge Mercedes Deiz, the first Black woman in Oregon to preside over district and county courtrooms; Sojourner Truth, an emancipated slave and human rights champion; Black journalist and civil rights advocate Ida B. Wells; and Harriet E. Wilson, the first Black published author.

The renaming website provides further information on the rationale for changing the name as well as the principles guiding the renaming committee’s process.

In an email to staff, Hristic said, “ All of these remarkable women meet the district naming protocols, they align with our committee’s renaming guidelines, and they reflect multiple community recommendations. I want to acknowledge that there are many other worthy candidates who could have been on this short list.”

The renaming committee will make a final recommendation to Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero on January 10, 2021. Wilson administrators said earlier this fall that following final approval from the school board they expect to begin a rebranding process to update school facilities, athletic uniforms, and publications to reflect the new name.

--Valeurie Friedman


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