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“Make them own it” was a call to hold the Democratic Party and the left fully accountable for its past and present misdeeds. Continuing to honor Woodrow Wilson, through the Woodrow Wilson Center and places named for him, has become incongruous with claims of justice and righting past wrongs. Indeed, controversy over Wilson’s name on a school in the District of Columbia raises an additional issue of past injustice and present claims for social justice.
Celebrated to this day as a founder of modern progressive government, Woodrow Wilson created the environment within which the Klu Klux Klan reemerged with a vengeance.
After seeing the film, an enthusiastic Wilson reportedly remarked: “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” African-American audiences openly wept at the film’s malicious portrayal of blacks, while Northern white audiences cheered. The film swept the nation. Riots broke out in major cities (Boston and Philadelphia, among others), and it was denied release in many other places (Chicago, Ohio, Denver, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Minneapolis). Gangs of whites roamed city streets attacking blacks. In Lafayette, Indiana, a white man killed a black teenager after seeing the movie. Thomas Dixon reveled in its triumph. “The real purpose of my film,” he confessed gleefully, “was to revolutionize Northern audiences that would transform every man into a Southern partisan for life.”