Should Washington High School change its name to Michelle Obama High School?

The Kansas City, Kansas, school board recently heard a request from a resident to change Washington High School’s name to Michelle Obama High School.

A letter was read at the July 21 board meeting’s community comments section from Amiel Green II. He and his father graduated from Washington Rural High School, and he is presently attending Rockhurst University, taking pre-med classes, along with physics and bioethics.

The school was named in 1932, and at that time the area was rural., Green stated.

“George Washington owned slaves for 59 years and the only people that were free in his lifetime were white land-owning males,” Green’s letter stated. Washington’s name does not reflect the students in today’s Washington High School hallways, he wrote.

Green didn’t think it would cost very much to change the school’s name. New signs, new sports and activities uniforms, and new shirts were among the items that might need to be changed if the school’s name is changed, according to his letter.

Green pointed out that the only drawback from naming a school after a person currently living is that the person could in the future do something stupid, but he didn’t think that was likely in this case, according to his letter.

No word yet on whether the school board will discuss the idea at a later date.

School board member Val Winn, a history professor who attended Washington, said today that the board hasn’t discussed the issue yet. Although there may be limited support at this time for that letter, there are also other schools that other district patrons have suggested should be renamed.

Dr. Winn said she has heard from residents who want to change the names of Charles Lindbergh and Frances Willard schools.

Willard, a suffragist in the 1890s, did not always support the right of African-Americans to vote, and Lindbergh in the 1920s was somewhat of a sympathizer of Nazi Germany, she said.

“The concept is something we seriously need to consider,” Dr. Winn said. “Particularly with Washington, it’s part of a larger discussion, as far as I’m concerned.”

68 thoughts on “Should Washington High School change its name to Michelle Obama High School?”

  1. I have a history of family members who graduated from Washington High School and it is my Alma Mater and I am very PROUD to have graduated there in “1981” and changing the name would be a disgrace and I would never ever again say I went to that school.

  2. The time has come for the cancel culture to end. It is nothing more than a minority whining. If we have to then, Wyandotte has to change its name because it is appropriating an indigenous tribe. They have to change their mascot (the bulldog) because it represents bullying. Oh, and Sumner Academy was named after a WHITE Republican who sided with Lincoln. Oh the horrors! See how ridiculous this is becoming? Let’s just accept history and move forward and stop with this craziness!

  3. My late dad graduated from Washington Rural with pride.
    He was a “90 day wonder”, achieving Officer rank and a pilot in only 90 days, 1943, in Caero, TX.
    He flew the troop, parachutist, and cargo C47, in Europe, WW2.
    Flew missions in Korea 1952.
    He believed in God, family, and country.
    It would be insulting to his memory to have his beloved high school named after a woman who said she was now proud of America, when her husband won the election.

    1. No change should be made. George Washington did far more for this country than Michelle Obama, or any First Lady for that matter, ever did or ever will.

    1. I totally agree Denise! I am proud to say I graduated from “Washington High School” as well as my Dad, Mom & Aunt! This nonsense has to STOP! Classes of 1950, 1952 & 1971

  4. Can we just give it a rest. OMG there is no way in the world that’s going to happen. And if it did lordy-b there would be a mess of unhappy people. So let’s just drop it ok. WHS class 74

  5. If you are going to change the name of the school do not give it a name of a person, consider a city or an object name. No body will be upset about that.

  6. History is history you can’t change it changing the name of something that been around for years isn’t going to change a thing

  7. I and some family members went to Washington High School. Very proud to say we did. Chang the name??? I don’t think so!!! The past is that, the past. Our HISTORY!! I guess we just need to take History out of the curriculum? People need to quit being idiots!!!!!

  8. Don’t understand why this needs to change. I still don’t understand why Coronado had to be changed. Where does this stop?? There are still people in this area who are proud to be a wildcat. Can’t imagine why MOHS would be an improvement. Politics?? Class of 71

      1. Coronado was torn down after Gloria Willis Middle School was built to replace West Middle School and Coronado Middle School. As a brand new school, the community voted to name it Gloria Willis after a wonderful woman of this district had served well over 40 years in various capacities of KCKPS. Oh yes, she was a highly respected black woman. She is definitely a part of our recent history.

  9. I graduated in 1968. I have always been proud of that, as I’m sure have many others. It has been Washington high school since the 1930s. Black or white, none of us were offended by the name. We need to teach our children that’s our history, and why by offended by a name . Even if It was named after our first president who yes owned slaves, was the first president of the United States. We learned from past lessons of what our country went thru. Be proud and be adults about this. Changing names DO NOT solve any problems.

    1. How about let’s leave the name the same and just teach kids that there are many Washington’s in our history that were great people. Like, Booker Taliaferro Washington, an American educator, author, orator, and adviser to multiple presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community and of the contemporary… That said I also believe President/General George Washington was a great person too, did he have his faults, yes. As does everyone. But we would alk be slaves to the UK if it wasn’t for him and other great men like himself.

  10. No way this should happen. We have got to quit giving in to all of this. Our history, along with the names of our institutions is our history and we need to learn from it not change it!

  11. An African American woman who graduated from Washington High School in 1974. I am opposed to changing the name. We should hang onto our history and not let any of it slip away.

  12. I think the idea is wonderful. Previous commentators mentioned the pride of the school and the history of its alumni. Newsflash: the school demographics in the 40s, 60s, 80s no longer matches the current school landscape. Nowadays, the school has a high immigrant/ELL population, gang affiliation AND affliction, and low percentage of whiteness. Students are struggling to find their identity in a school named after a slave owner. Those who commented, do you have ANY family members who currently attend Washington High School? How would you feel if your school was named after someone who abused your ancestors for over 400-years? How is that a reflection of pride? It’s not. It’s a perpetual mindset to ask Black Americans (code word: minorities) to forgive and forget the past meanwhile still live and LEARN in systemic oppression. Unfair for our children in Wyandotte county! I congratulate Amiel Green for suggesting and seeking school name alternatives.

    1. No way! That was so long ago. Let’s worry about violence, child abuse, etc and stop this nonsense. What a waste of time. I am a proud 78 graduate who had five siblings graduate from WHS and a hubby who worked there for 30 years!

    2. If the name was to change, how about Benoyd”Butch” Ellison a fine man and teacher/principal for years at Washington. Just a thought.

  13. I graduated from Washington HS in 1971…I am proud of the name of the school….I find naming it after Obummer a disgrace & am offended they would even consider this. When does the cancel everything STOP…..It is time to quit giving into the whinners!

  14. WOW…….
    I guess we could be like Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley…..North, South, East, West, NorthWest, NorthEast, SouthWest, SouthEast, NorthNorth, SouthSouth, EastEast ,WestWest. Boy if they tried to change Wyandotte’s name their would be a riot. God Bless all the Washington High School Alumni.

  15. My name is Amiel Green II. Class of ‘19. I wish the edition would edit and change my name before publishing. I appreciate the honest feedback immensely and I encourage more of it. The name Washington is also associated with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, which are in fact undergoing a name change https://apple.news/A-FnsjaIjTI-FZuG1iqWtbQ . His monuments nationwide are under review because of his role as a slave owner. Not to mention that the country he created was free for “all” white land owning males. He also left his slaves to his wife who were destined to be free after her death. That was so for long after his death too.

    Regardless owning another person or having a history of such is denying everything our current beliefs nationwide and community wide stand for!

    I am ashamed that these conservative views are against representing truthfully and honorably the current students that walk the halls of Washington. Many whom have ancestors who were slaves who help built this country! Me being one of them… That is why Black Lives Matter!! Just because this is Kansas does not mean we should not review similar changes in our community! Michelle Obama or ANY African American would be a far better suit than Washington! Thats an important part of history! History is and always has been hard to swallow and surprising! I hope we approach this with an open and honest mind. Any women also would be a wonderful fit because KCKPS of today is proud to produce strong and educated women of color! Michelle Obama was in fact elected by President Barack Obama to be head of the Let’s Move! Campaign. She was on television fighting childhood obesity, promoting equal education, and she looked like a women I wanted my little sister to grow up to be like! She was on television for at least 7 years! That symbolizes her as a living icon among my generation and generations to come for any student who is of color or a women in America.

    Kansas schools are also segregated! I know this first hand. From 2nd to 3rd grade I was one of two black students in my entire class. I was often called his name since mine was too hard to pronounce. Then in the 4th grade the first two black girls came to my school and another black boy. That was it until middle school. Even then there was only about 10 total. My freshman year there were 30 students that were not white out of a large freshman class. To go to Washington where the teachers and counselors were apathetic towards my peers and my own education simply because we look the way we do is one slap in the face. Another would be unorganized lack of communication that the administration willingly displayed in front of students. And the apatheticness is absorbed wholly by the students. That’s why I plan on doing something about about it!

    1. Thank you, Amiel! I wholeheartedly support this idea. I’m a grad of WHS 77 and I believe the name needs to be changed and Michelle Obama would be a great change!

      1. Cleanse your white conscience else where. Liberalism will be the death knell of this country. It was the Democrats who fought the Civil War to keep slavery and now they want to erase their own guilt and stained history. By the way, did you ever leave your mark at Washington or did you just walk the halls, waiting for the bell to ring. Kumbya, my friend, kumbya

  16. What has Michelle Obama done to have her name on a school. She was a President’s Wife. Especially one that has the name “Washington” for many many years.I graduated from Washington High School in 1957. I am proud to be a graduate of Washington High School. I see no reason to change the name

    1. What did Washington do you have his name on a High School? Wait. Omg. Did you ever consider that maybe everything named Washington was named after …. his WIFE? ((Gasp??!!)) What did she ever do other than being the wife of a President? Ohhhhh wow. Check mate.
      🌍❤️

  17. I graduate from Washington High School in 1979, my foreign exchange brother in 1980, my brother in 1981, my daughter in 2005. This school is part of our history & Wyandotte County’s history!! Renaming would be like a slap in the face!! Please don’t change the name of our school!!! If memory serves me well 1979 was one of the largest graduating classes!!

  18. As a graduate of Washington High School in 1979, I feel that the name should stay as it is. Washington High School started out as a rural school, then had the “Rural” removed from its name when the city limits changed. The school has seen an abundance of changes throughout its history, both with the structure itself and the students who have attended school there. There was never a problem with the name, that I am aware of, any time in the past. Why should there be one now? I believe in progress and change, but this is unnecessary. We are Washington Wildcats, and proud of it!

    1. Debbie let be begin by responding to you! I will like to wish upon you love from me and from God. I also hope that you read what follows with an open mind.

      As a black man in America I have a problem with a school that I graduated from being named after a slave owner. Also Debbie, assuming you are a woman, you would not have had the right to vote if you were alive at the time. I, alike most of the students who now and will in the future walk the hallways of Washington Rural High School are actually related to real whole peoples that were only considered at best 5/8 for hundreds of years. In other words oppressed. That is why black lives must matter more.

      Imagine being in a classroom of students who don’t look or talk like you at all but one. Imagine all of the students and the teachers calling you that kids name because your own name was to hard to pronounce. This and many other inequalities is what I as a black man in America have to deal with every single time I wake up to the time I go to sleep.

      Now during the me too movement even the Washington Redskins are changing their name. Not to mention his statutes are being torn down. Why do you think it’s fair and just for the offspring of the slaves to go to a school that’s named after a man who owned slaves. And call it history. Since it always was it always should.

  19. Yes, I’m graduated from the Washington High School class of 1970. We were supposed to have our 50th class reunion this year but due to the virus postponed until next year. I’m proud to say I was a Wildcat. I realize that Washington High School is not the same school I attend but It still my alma mater.

    1. Steve- what does Alma Mater mean?

      It means Soul Mother.

      Your souls mother is named George Washington.

      Does that help?

      1. To “Mother Earth” alma mater actually translates directly to

        “Nourishing it bountiful mother”

        According to vocabulary. Com

        https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/alma%20mater

        George Washington certainly was a bountiful mother for white land and slave owning males! For a proud black man it’s incomprehensible to justify sending black and brown students to a school named after a slave master.

        Michelle Obama was head of the LETS MOVE! campaign which revolutionized school lunches. She was also on TV for years making her a living icon for the African American community. She was also the first black First Lady of this country. She’s done more than enough.

  20. History always will be a hard pain to swallow. To understand. But in doing so we recognize that some skeletons are far larger than others in the closets of various important people in history. The owning of people is an unforgivable one. Washington Rural High School (Read the school website please sometime Debbie) was named in 1932. It should be RENAMED in 2020. ESPECIALLY after MICHELLE OBAMA! Why? Because she was appointed by Barack Obama as head of the LETS MOVE! Campaign to tackle CHILDHOOD OBESITY. SHE also was TELEVISION for at least SEVEN YEARS! Making her a living ICON, especially among the actual STUDENTS that walk the HALLS TODAY. Black Lives Matters applies to those black lives!

  21. Do not change the name. It is part of history. I am a proud member of the WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 81.

  22. What’s next? Maybe changing the name United States of America. When does it stop? The few can change the name of my high school, but it WILL ALWAYS be Washington High School to me class of 1968. Someday when everything you don’t like about this country, statues, bridges, cities, street names and school names change, what really changes, nothing. To the older population it will still be Washington High Scool, The Grandview Triangle, the Paseo Bridge, and The United States of America. To destroy history WILL repeat itself.

  23. I am a graduate of Washington High School and I am proud of it. My husband’s great great grandmother was on the Trail of Tears on the trip
    to Oklahoma. He is 1/8 Creek Indian. If his great great grandmother had not
    gone on the trip, he wouldn’t be here. He is glad to be in this beautiful
    country. You have ruined football games for him. He doesn’t plan to watch
    anymore. Not because it is named for the Chiefs or the chop, but it is
    for the kneeling and removing the anthem for another Black anthem.
    Life goes on and we are much better with passing years.
    Lavone Johnson Anglen

  24. Why change the name? When George Washington owned slaves was it against the law? No. Do I approve of him doing this? No. So let’s ask another question. What happens if in 50 years we find out that something President Obama or Michelle Obama went against things in that time frame? Will something be done to change the name then? I have read were a suggestion was made to change the name to something not related to a person. Why not just call it USD 500 West High School? Then Wyandotte could be changed to USD 500 East High School. and so forth for all the schools in the district – actually all the schools in the country so no one would be offended. If we do that, what about people that name their children by names no one approves of like George? Maybe not after George Washington, but someone might think that. This has gotten really out of hand. As far as Black Lives Matter. I agree they do matter, but so do every other life. Please read the information at the following web site regarding slavery: https://theconversation.com/american-slavery-separating-fact-from-myth-79620. And just a reminder that it was Abraham Lincoln, a white man, that finally did something about it. Also, remember it is not this generations fault. Don’t blame us. Please!

  25. My brother, two sisters, and numerous nieces and nephews graduated from Washington “Rural” high school and are proud of their tradition.
    Let’s carry this further: Nine Presidents owned slaves while in office. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James Polk, and Zachary Taylor. Let us not forget Lincoln. While he never owned a slave it did not stop him from courting and marrying Mary Todd who, along with other members of her family, owned slaves. So now we cannot have anything involving their names and so we must include their first names also since those names would be a reminder of the man. Where do we stop?
    Elizabeth Bannister was a free black woman but saw fit to own slaves–no more Bannister road!

  26. My ancestors are am. Indian. Trace it to the Trail of tears. I can not believe we are having this conversation. You cannot hold a people or person alive today be responsible for what someone did years ago. We should not single out one race to be held above any other. In this country when you choose to be an american thats what you are. I think all lives matter. If you dont like this country that was built on blood sweat and tears of so many people, leave. Its not perfect and neither are we. We will never be rid of evil, unless we love more. And if you dont want to truly fix the problem and grow past it, go somewhere else. Washington is a name. Thats all it is. But its where we went to school. Leave it be. Go change Hate.

  27. Washington High School should be kept the Same for as Long as it stands…
    It is not called,
    George Washington High School.
    I graduated from there in “79”
    If they did change the name why would
    we want Michelle Obama.
    I would much rather use the name from someone who was a Scholar from the State of Kanss or John Brown.
    Tina J.

  28. I graduated in 1959 and I am totally against changing the name of not only Washington High School but any other school. All of this changing names and removing statues is anti-American and people should be ashamed of themselves if they agree with changing history.

  29. It’s history. It is so sad to see what is now happening in our beloved United States of America. I understand what the black people had to endure. They are God’s people the same as white people. However, the past cannot be changed. It is our HISTORY. I am a 52 graduate of Washington High School and very proud of it.
    Gerry Trout

  30. There are lots of people with the surname of Washington. What do we do with all of them? Someone has too much time on their hands. Leave well enough alone.

  31. H— no. We cant always use hindsight to judge the founder of this country. Farmers walking barefoot in the snow to form our Country. He was chosen to lead this country and without him you would be arrested for talking if we were communist or some other society.
    Judge not Lest ye be Judged.

  32. If any name change at WHS is should be HD Neill HS. Aside from being a teacher and coach for many years Mr. Neill guided the school as principal at it’s peak enrollment of almost 3,000 students in the early 1970s. Too, he helped the KCK School District in it’s handling of the court ordered school integration by helping create and organize the magnet school Sumner and become it’s first principal. No disrespect to Ms. Obama or any other national figure but if you’re looking for a name change why not honor the local people who dedicated their lives to making the institution what it is?

    1. My concern is we don’t know if the class of 2021 can attend class, we don’t know if outside activities such as sports, band, etc will continue so we waste taxpayers time and money debating a school name change. My family and many, many cousins went to Washington and have seen many opportunities due to the staff. There’s no reason to change the name.
      Please find some other “task” that might be worthy to the students and your voters.

  33. I agree with my fellow classmates and other Washington alumni that the school, if renamed, should be named after H.D. Neill. I graduated in 1974 and Mr Neill was my principal. I believe that his contribution to the high school as well as the educational community is worthy of such an honor. I believe it would be more appropriate to name a new school after former First Lady Michelle Obama or former First Lady Laura Bush as both supported programs that benefited children.

  34. Leave the name alone, this is getting out of hand, are they going to change Washington State, Washington DC, all streets named Washington, are people w/the last name Washington going to take on another name, take Washington off Mt Rushmore, I think there is more important issues going on then being so petty about a name. Let’s concentrate on getting along with each other and making life better for all of us.

  35. The name “Washington High School” should remain it’s name till it no longer stands. I am a graduate of Washington High School and I am proud of it….class of 1973. As it has been mentioned here already by others, instead of just slapping a new name on the school just because some thinks it’s a grand gesture, perhaps thinking about who made the school what it is today might be a more appropriate gesture. Besides it students and teachers there have been many that have contributed to the school in many ways. I agree with those that made mention of HD Neill. Aside from being a teacher and coach for many years Mr. Neill guided the school as principal at it’s peak enrollment of almost 3,000 students in the early 1970s. I went there in those years and it was trying times. He helped the KCK School District in it’s handling of the court ordered school integration by helping create and organize the magnet school Sumner and become it’s first principal. If you’re looking for a name change why not honor the local people who dedicated their lives to making the institution what it is?

  36. George Washington was the greatest American General of all time. He led his small army against all odds to defeat the most powerful army at that time. He was our first President, neither Democrat or Wig(Republican).
    He refused to run for another 3rd term. He was beloved by all of his country men and was father of this great nation. We are not a perfect nation but we are one of the most generous, kind and fairest nation in the world. No one can defend slavery but we can defend that the United States of America which was the First Nation to be self ruled. Our Founding fathers set up principles that gives us certain in unalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These principals are our foundation and we are proud to be a part of this special human experience. George Washington was a great hero and patriot and led this new nation to democracy. This is the symbol that George Washington represents. God Bless America!

  37. What did Michelle Obama ever do to get any high school named after her? Take multiple vacations at taxpayers’ expense? Set the lunch menu for public school students? Of course, her hubby did get a Nobel Peace Prize about five minutes into the job, so I guess anything is possible.

  38. Oh, good grief! If schools need to be renamed to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, then I’d suggest we go very generic. Sumner can become KCK Northeast, Wyandotte can be KCK East, Schlagle can be KCK Central, Washington gets to be KCK West, and Harmon can be KCK South. Did I miss any?

  39. Enough! What next…banning books because ONE person doesn’t like what’s in them? Where does this stop? As a history professor Dr Winn knows you can’t change history. LEARN from it, the good and the bad. Let future generations know America hasn’t always been a perfect country but we are the BEST example of recognizing our mistakes and correcting them; our Amendments to the Constitution are a testament to that. Washington was a slave owner; so what? Why focus on that instead of his accomplishments in our country’s founding? Changing names doesn’t solve problems. Yes, the demographic of the school has changed over the years but is that enough reason to name it after someone whom you believe reflects the majority of the students? What happens if the majority of the demographic changes to another ethnicity? Do we change AGAIN? Amiel stated “my freshmen year there were 30 students that were not white out of a large freshman class.” If that were true then he just made an argument against himself for renaming the school.

    If you want a school named after Michelle Obama, build one. Leave history alone.

    1. Dr. Winn did not say she would support changing any names — she did not take a position that day. She said she has heard from constituents about it, and she said these ideas may need to be considered. She was asked about it because she is a history professor who graduated from Washington. The idea to change the name of Washington HS was from a former Washington student who is now a college student. At this time, we have not seen any school board discussion scheduled on it.

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