DC Council approves Jackson-Reed in final name change vote

Nearly a century after opening, the school will no longer be named for Woodrow Wilson

Hadley Carr

DC Council voted 11-1 in the final vote needed to rename Woodrow Wilson High School to Jackson-Reed High School, in honor of two pioneering Black educators. 

The legislation will be sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser, who would then sign or veto the bill. The name honors Edna B. Jackson, the first Black female teacher, and Vincent Reed, the first Black principal. 

Eleven of the committee members voted in support of the name Jackson-Reed, with one abstention from Council Member Janese Lewis George. Council Member Vincent C. Gray was absent during the vote. 

The vote follows an 11-1 decision by the DC Council to proceed with renaming Wilson for Jackson-Reed. All council members voted in favor of the bill, except for Vincent Gray, who was absent, and Janeese Lewis George, who abstained, voting “present.” Prior to the vote, Lewis George noted that she supported renaming the school exclusively for Jackson, who was hired in 1955 after Brown vs. The Board of Education required school desegregation. 

George’s advocacy for Jackson is among newfound support for renaming the school exclusively for Edna B. Jackson, making it the first high school namesake to honor a woman. Jackson has received support from the Washington Teacher’s Union and a Washington Post editorial. 

In late May 2021, DC Council received the Mayor’s proposal of the Black playwright, August Wilson, as the new name, aligning with the Chancellor’s proposal. The Chancellor recommended August Wilson based upon the results of a public survey completed in December 2020.

However, following large pushback from the Wilson community and outside organizations, the DC Council amended the bill to Jackson-Reed. Testimony from Wilson staff, alumni, and organizations formed the majority of the support for Edna Jackson and Vincent Reed. 

Interim Principal Gregory Bargeman noted that the process was difficult to explain to the school community, but ultimately “we have someone who was a great principal, someone who was a great teacher, [the] first African American teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School.” •