president donald trump recently lashed out after Princeton University recently removed former president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school.
The school cited Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies” in its decision.
“Can anyone believe that Princeton just dropped the name of Woodrow Wilson from their highly respected policy center,” trump wrote on Twitter. “Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport,” he continued, referring to Orange County Democrats who want to change the name of John Wayne Airport after a video of “racist and bigoted statements” Wayne made in a 1971 interview saying that he “believes” in white supremacy resurfaced. “Incredible stupidity!” America’s White-supremacy-loving, Racist president added.
So, let’s talk about Woodrow Wilson. We’ll get to John Wayne at another time.
When Woodrow Wilson was president of Princeton University, No Black students were admitted. Black students were admitted before Wilson was president, and were admitted after he was president, but not while he was president.
Woodrow Wilson, who won both the 1912 and 1916 presidential elections, is often held up as an example of a “progressive” President, but many consider him to have been a Racist in presidential clothing. To win the African American vote, Wilson made the campaign promise that he could be counted on “for absolute fair dealing, for everything by which I could assist in advancing the interests of [the African] race in the United States.” But following Wilson’s election, his first Congress sent him some of the most racist legislation in the history of that body, and Wilson promptly signed it.
Having said during his campaign that he would improve the conditions of Blacks in the country, President Wilson, after he was elected, did nothing to make good on his campaign promises. In fact, he acted to re-segregate the federal workplace. Following the Civil War, Blacks had been employed in various federal jobs in Washington, D.C., and often the offices they worked in were integrated; in many departments, White clerks worked under Black supervision. Wilson’s Cabinet put an end to that, and in fact ended Blacks having access to federal jobs. Moreover, his Administration made it mandatory to include a photograph with any application for a federal position, which further facilitated the exclusion of Blacks from government jobs. President Wilson allowed officials to segregate work areas of their departments, even segregating the lavatories. One reason given was that White government workers had to be protected from various contagious diseases, particularly venereal diseases, which Wilson claimed were widespread among Blacks.
Wilson claimed that segregation was an act of kindness. He actively supported racist legislation, such as a bill passed by the House of Representatives that made interracial marriages a felony in Washington, D.C. President Wilson pushed for segregation of federal workers, systematically demoted Black civil servants, and claimed that nothing could be done to improve the situation of Blacks in the country. Wilson defended segregation as “what was best” to manage racial tensions and suggested that the Jim Crow system “not done to injure or humiliate the colored clerks, but to avoid friction.”
On February 8, 1915, two years into Wilson’s presidency, D. W. Griffith’s silent film celebrating the rise of the Ku Klux Klan had its premiere in Los Angeles at Clune’s Auditorium. The Birth of a Nation is an unconscionably racist film of epic proportions, and President Woodrow Wilson was one of its most outspoken fans. This reprehensible movie portrays the so-called “overthrow” by the Ku Klux Klan of Reconstruction in the South. Griffith had White actors in blackface portray Black characters as savages, and characterized Klan members as brave, courageous, and patriotic. D. W. Griffith’s movie showed Jesus Christ blessing the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. After seeing the film, an enthusiastic Wilson reportedly remarked, “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
It is far more accurate to understand Woodrow Wilson’s two terms leading this country as an eight-year era of Presidential racism. The Birth of a Nation accomplished exactly what it was intended to. With the wholehearted support of President Wilson, it inflamed the racist attitudes of White America against Blacks in this country and helped popularize the second incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan, which gained its greatest power and influence in the mid-1920s. Woodrow Wilson like donald trump…two racists in presidential clothing.
The Struggle Continues!
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.