Black Justice League

Nov. 18-19, 2015

More than 100 students organized by the Black Justice League held a protest, including a 32-hour sit-in, at the office of University President Christopher Eisgruber, bringing additional energy to long-standing student concerns about Wilson’s legacy, institutional history, and the presence of racism and bigotry on college campuses. The Black Justice League, a student group, requested adding a diversity requirement to the core curriculum, creating additional affinity spaces for people of color, requiring a mandatory cultural-competency training for the faculty, and stripping the name and imagery of Woodrow Wilson from all of its institutions and buildings. 

Nov. 19, 2015

The protests ended with President Eisgruber signing a document considering these student demands.

December 2015

The Board of Trustees appointed a special committee to consider Wilson's legacy at Princeton. The Wilson Legacy Review was chaired by Brent Henry '69, the vice chair of the Board. In addition to collecting views through their website, members of the committee were on campus in early 2016 for in-person conversations.

April 4, 2016

The Wilson Legacy Review committee presented its report to the Board of Trustees, which adopted its recommendations on how the University should recognize Wilson’s legacy. The trustees accepted the committee’s recommendation that the school of public and international affairs and the undergraduate residential college that bear Wilson’s name should continue to do so, but that the University also must be “honest and forthcoming about its history” and transparent “in recognizing Wilson’s failings and shortcomings as well as the visions and achievements that led to the naming of the school and the college in the first place.”

The committee recommended and the Board approved new initiatives in four areas:

  • Establish a new high-profile pipeline program to encourage more students from underrepresented groups to pursue doctoral degrees;
  • Encourage and support a broad range of education and transparency initiatives to create a more multi-faceted understanding and representation of Wilson on campus and to focus attention on aspects of Princeton’s history that have been forgotten, overlooked, subordinated, or suppressed. This includes installing a permanent marker onsite that educates the campus community and others about both the positive and negative dimensions of Wilson's legacy;
  • Make a concerted effort to diversify campus art and iconography to reflect the diversity and inclusivity of today's Princeton. This includes commissioning artwork that honors those who helped make Princeton a more diverse and inclusive place or that expresses the University’s aspiration to be more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming to all members of its community. This recommendation was consistent with conversations that took place between the administration and various student groups, including Princeton Latinos y Amigos, the Latinx community, and the Black Justice League, as well as the Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and
  • Change Princeton’s informal motto from “Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations” to “Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.”



Wilson Legacy exhibit

April 4, 2016 – Oct. 28, 2016

The contested legacy of Wilson formed the focus of an exhibition on display in the Bernstein Gallery of Robertson Hall. The show, “In the Nation’s Service? Woodrow Wilson Revisited,” documented not only the positive but also the negative aspects of Wilson’s tenure as 13th president of Princeton University and 28th president of the United States. The exhibition was created by the firm Whirlwind Creative, Inc. in partnership with the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library and the Woodrow Wilson School.



Wilson Legacy panel discussion

April 8, 2016

Wilson's contested legacy was the focus of a panel discussion on Friday, April 8, 2016, 4:30 p.m., in Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall. The panel talk, which was co-sponsored with the Seely G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton, was held in conjunction with a Woodrow Wilson art exhibit.

Panelists included:

  • Scott Berg ’71, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer; author, “Wilson”
  • Ashleigh Lawrence-Sanders, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Rutgers University
  • Eric Yellin Ph.D. '07, associate professor of history and American studies, University of Richmond; author, “Racism in the Nation’s Service: Government Workers and the Color Line in Woodrow Wilson's America”
  • Chad Williams Ph.D. '04, associate professor and chair, Department of African and Afro-American Studies, Brandeis University; author, “Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era”

May 2016

A marker committee was formed, charged with:

  • Collecting information about how other colleges and universities have created markers to render their history;
  • Gathering suggestions via a website from the University community, including its alumni, about what this marker should look like; and
  • Recommending a marker that educated the campus community and others about both the positive and negative dimensions of Wilson’s legacy.

Marker committee members included: Tera Hunter, professor of history and African American studies; Nolan McCarty, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and former chair of the Department of Politics; Rhonda Adams Medina, Class of 1987, vice president, business and legal affairs, Sprout; Chika Okeke-Agulu, associate professor of art and archaeology and African American studies; Matt Blazejewski '17; Imani Thornton '18; Milan Reed MPA '17; and Simone Webster MPA '17. The committee was chaired by Woodrow Wilson School Dean Cecilia Rouse and University Architect Ron McCoy, and staffed by Woodrow Wilson School Public Affairs Associate Dean Elisabeth Donahue. 

Jan. 4, 2017

The marker committee welcomed input from Princeton students, alumni, faculty, and staff through a website. The site encouraged people to comment on the form of the marker as well as what part or parts of Wilson’s legacy it should emphasize. Those interested in sharing their thoughts with the committee could complete the brief survey, which was open through Jan. 31, 2017.

Jan. 9, 2017 - Present

The exhibit was on display at several locations on the Princeton University campus including Frist Campus Center, 701 Carnegie Center, McCormick Hall, Wilson College, among others.

Fall 2017

Artist Walter Hood was selected to create the installation. To help Hood and his team with this process, a second “content committee” was formed. Committee members included: Nolan McCarty, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and former chair of the Department of Politics; Chika Okeke-Agulu, associate professor of art and archaeology and African American studies; Lizzie Martin '14 MPA '18; Monica Moore Thompson '89; Catherine J. Toppin, Esq. '02; Lauryn Williams MPA '18; Maria Jose Solorzano Castro '21; Paulina Lopez Gonzalez MPA '19; and Christopher Ratsimbazafy-Da Silva '19. The committee was chaired by Woodrow Wilson School Dean Cecilia Rouse and University Architect Ron McCoy, and staffed by Woodrow Wilson School Public Affairs Associate Dean Elisabeth Donahue.



Walter Hood

Feb. 8, 2018

Walter Hood was publicly announced as designer of the new installation about Wilson’s legacy. Originally titled, “Double Consciousness,” it was scheduled to be placed on Scudder Plaza beside Robertson Hall. It was later renamed to “Double Sights.”



Rendering of installation

March 14, 2019

Construction for the installation was publicly announced with images of the proposed structure. Construction took place June 2019 through September 2019.



Walter Hood speaking to a group of students and members of the public.

April 4, 2019

Hood visited the Princeton University to present a talk on the importance of public art and his new installation.



A man and women talking

Oct. 5, 2019

The installation was unveiled during an event the Thrive Conference, titled “Woodrow Wilson’s Legacy: Wrestling with History.” University Trustee Brent Henry introduced the talk, which included Michelle Minter, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, and artist Walter Hood.

After the talk, a dedication was held on Scudder Plaza, with President Eisgruber and Dean Rouse offering remarks. Simultaneously, a silent protest and teach-in took place next to the installation. A public reception followed in Bernstein Gallery, Level A, Robertson Hall, while the protest continued outdoors. 



A man talking



Student protest

June 26, 2020

The Princeton University Board of Trustees voted to remove Woodrow Wilson's name from the School of Public and International Affairs because Wilson's "racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms." The idea to change the name had been urged by students and alumni over the years, most recently by the Black Justice League in 2015. The School is now known as the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.