**FILE** Ballou Senior High School (WI photo)
**FILE** Ballou Senior High School (WI photo)

The renaming of the Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest’s Ward 3 to Jackson-Reed in 2022 reflects the growing sentiment in the District that its public elementary and secondary schools should be named after individuals who support diversity, inclusion and equality whether in education or other fields of endeavor. Wilson was a president who segregated federal workplaces based on race and harbored negative views of African Americans, whereas Edna Burke Jackson served as the first Black teacher at the school that partially bears her name and Vincent Reed worked there as its first African American principal.

The same process that took place for Jackson-Reed should be replicated for Frank W. Ballou High School in Southeast’s Ward 8. Ballou served as the superintendent of the District’s public schools from 1920 to 1943. He has been credited for building 60 new schools and raising teachers’ salaries. However, Ballou was known to support separate educational facilities for Blacks and whites. Plus, in 1939 Ballou denied famed African American singer Marian Anderson the chance to perform at Central High School, which was all-white, even though a few years earlier he approved her performing at Armstrong High School, which was all-Black. This is not the type of legacy Ballou High School students of today should be celebrating, whether it is marching in Thanksgiving Day parades or receiving their diplomas.

While there was an effort to rename Ballou in honor of Marion S. Barry Jr. — who served as the District’s mayor and represented the ward on the board of education and in the D.C. Council — that effort may have been replaced with plans to have Good Hope Road SE bear his name. Noted late Ward 8 leaders such as Dr. Calvin Rolark, the founder of the Washington Informer or his wife, Council member Wilhelmina Rolark, activist James Bunn and child care leader Hannah Hawkins are some names that could replace Ballou’s name either singularly or in a combination. These Ward 8 residents supported civil and human rights and believed in fairness for all.

District residents, regardless of where they live, should communicate to the D.C. Board of Education, Ward 8 Council member Trayon White (D) and Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) that Ballou’s name should be removed. Whether the school’s name bears Barry, Rolark, Bunn, Hawkins singularly or in combination, they are better public service models for young people than a man who didn’t believe that Blacks and whites were equal.

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