Democracy Dies in Darkness

On Leadership

Racism, feminism and the complicated legacy of Woodrow Wilson

July 11, 2016 at 12:23 AM

(Backgrounds by Craig & Karl for The Washington Post; Photo by Amy King/The Washington Post)

For a long time, the main legacy of President Woodrow Wilson's hinged on his progressive domestic policies and his leadership during World War I that reshaped American diplomacy. But more recently, another part of his personal and presidential story—racism—is starting to overshadow those other elements.

Within the past year, students at Princeton University have protested to have Wilson's name and image removed from campus. And some even look at the broader racial tensions roiling America today and direct part of the blame toward early 20th-century presidents like Wilson who stood by as African Americans lost many of the rights and social progress they had gained decades before, during Reconstruction.

In the newest episode of the Presidential podcast, biographer John Milton Cooper and Woodrow Wilson House executive director Robert Enholm lead us through the 28th president's complicated legacy today.

Listen to the episode here or on iTunes:

In previous episodes of the Presidential podcast, we've explored topics like Abraham Lincoln's language and the violent life of Andrew Jackson. The podcast is hosted by Lillian Cunningham, editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section.

As listeners tune in each week, the podcast reveals the ways in which our collective sense of what's 'presidential' has evolved over the years and how each president—esteemed, loathed or nearly forgotten—has something to tell us about what it takes to hold the nation's highest office.

A new episode comes out every Sunday. Here's how to follow along:

Subscribe for free on iTunes to automatically get new episodes when they launch
Check out our Presidential page on the Washington Post site for new episodes and the full series archive
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Lillian Cunningham is the creator and host of the "Presidential" and "Constitutional" podcasts. She was previously a feature writer for and editor of The Washington Post's On Leadership section, for which she received two Emmy Awards for her interviews with leaders in politics, business and the arts.

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