New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says he's no longer using his desk that once belonged to Woodrow Wilson

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweets a picture of him taking a moment of silence for George Floyd on June 4, 2020 as he sits behind a desk that once belonged to Woodrow Wilson.

When New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted a picture of him observing a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd earlier this month, people were quick to point out that he was doing it from behind a desk that was engraved with the name of Woodrow Wilson.

Some found the image ironic because Murphy was remembering the unjust death of a Black man while sitting at a desk that once belonged to Wilson, a former New Jersey governor and US president who defended segregation and slavery.

Now, Murphy has ditched the piece of office furniture, which he said he forgot had a plaque on the front of it that read "Woodrow Wilson's Desk."

"As soon as I could get a replacement, which was not as easy as I thought, I got one and I think that was the right thing to do," Murphy said during a news conference on Monday.

The country is having a "reckoning," Murphy said, and "Woodrow Wilson and his legacy is being swept up in that as it should be."

Wilson, who was the country's 28th president from 1913 to 1921, once called racial segregation a "benefit" and said slaves "were happy and well-cared for."

When he served as president for Princeton University, from 1902-1910, he denied African American men from being admitted, and sought to exclude them from the school's history.

Murphy's decision to switch out his desk comes after Princeton removed Wilson's name from its school of public policy and a residential college.

"Wilson's racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time," Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement this past weekend.

"He segregated the federal civil service after it had been racially integrated for decades, thereby taking America backward in its pursuit of justice. He not only acquiesced in but added to the persistent practice of racism in this country, a practice that continues to do harm today."

New Jersey's Monmouth University has also said it will remove Wilson's name from the campus's Great Hall. It will look to instead honor its lead designer, Julian Abele, who was one of the first professionally trained African American architects.

CNN's Kristina Sgueglia, Jay Croft, Sheena Jones and Karen Smith contributed to this report.

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by subscribing or making a contribution today.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please log in, or sign up for a new, free account to read or post comments.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.