PEORIA, Ill. – School officials in central Illinois have decided to remove from Woodrow Wilson the name of a primary school and instead honor the terms of the first black female doctor.
The Peoria Public Schools board of directors voted Monday to change the name of Woodrow Wilson elementary school after a Peoria-native Dr. Maude Sanders.
“The fact is that we don’t have enough of our history, spoken and taught in our schools,” said Board President Martha Ross. “Our children need someone to look up to, and it is not only black children, all children will search for Peoria’s first black doctor.”
District officials have been considering a name change, because a former district teacher, Linda Watson, of concerns last year about the district’s lack of representation of minorities. The name of the school came under scrutiny by Wilson’s ties with racism and segregation.
The move will expose more people to Sanders’ achievements, said board member Gregory Wilson.
Member of the board Robert Davison Aviles said that he was worried about the precedent that is set by the change of the name. He voted to support the move, but said that the change of the name of the school could spur moves to change the names of other schools or buildings that are connected to public figures with less than perfect history.
He noted that Thomas Jefferson and Charles Lindbergh local schools named after them and also have a problematic past.
Member of the board of directors Then Walther was the lone vote against the change. He said he supports the naming of a school after the Freak but does not believe that the name of the school should be changed.
The amendment becomes effective for the 2018-19 school year.