How Mad Men Explains Woodrow Wilson—And How Not To Pick Leaders


After years of debate Princeton University has voted to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its school of Public Policy because of his extreme racism. Wilson’s views and actions were abhorrent even by the standards of his era. He discouraged Black students from attending Princeton and segregated the (previously integrated) federal workforce. You can imagine an African American student at Princeton, knowing his or her school was honoring this figure (or crossing the Potomac’s Woodrow Wilson Bridge), telling themselves that he is being honored for his other achievements – despite his racism, not because of it. After all, Wilson was President of Princeton, Governor of New Jersey, and the President of the United States who led America to victory in the First World War. If anyone’s achievements are large enough that they should be honored despite their racism, Wilson seems like an excellent candidate.

“People tell us who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.” – Don Draper, Mad Men Season 5

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