After nearly a century, 74 years to be exact, Woodrow Wilson School in Peoria will be stripped of it's title and changed to Maude A. Sanders. Sanders, was a Peoria native and also happens to be the first Black woman in the city, to become a doctor.
PSD board members approved the plan with a 6-1 vote during their monthly meeting. Board member Dan Walter, opposed.
The decision comes months after a former Peoria Public School teacher, Linda Watson, brought concerns to the board about wanting a school renamed after a prominent African American figure.
The request sparked conversations about politics and race as it pertained to Wilson; with a handful of folks calling the former president an outright 'racist..
During a lengthy school board meeting Monday night, board members deliberated intensely about the proposed name change; many of them working to play devil's advocate.
One board member explained that while he supported the name change, he also wanted to highlight the chance that this could set a precedent; meaning; if Woodrow Wilson is renamed, what happens to any other schools or buildings, etc named after public figures with a less than perfect past.
One gentleman in the audience, got up to address the board about the change and accused 'some' members of the district of trying to change history. He went on to say he is in complete favor of naming 'a' school after Maude Sanders, and that it has nothing to do with race. However, he explained, his problem was more about removing the history from the city.
Gregory Wilson, another board member in favor of the decision expressed his contentment about the vote. He says there's a bigger picture that's two-fold; going beyond the removal of Wilson's name.
Gregory Wilson explained that not many people know who Maude Sanders was and added this is an incredible opportunity for kids to see a less publicized piece of history, also boasting that the woman was a local- something to brag about.
His other point, highlighted what he described as the good side of democracy. During an interview after the three and a half hour board meeting, he said the entire situation is an example of how important public contribution is and how effective voicing an opinion can be.
There is official date set for when the change will take effect.