The university building will be called Laura Wooten Hall

DEDICATED TO DEMOCRACY: Laura Wooten strolled the Princeton campus in 2018 with two of her grandsons who work at the University: Isaac Love III, left, a caretaker in building services, and Caasi Love , right, deputy director of finance and planning in the Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The University has announced that a building on campus will be named Laura Wooten Hall beginning July 1. (Photo by Mark Czajkowski)

By Donald Gilpin

A building at Princeton University will be renamed in honor of Laura Wooten, a former resident of Princeton and Lawrence townships, who was credited as the nation’s oldest election worker.

Intended to honor Wooten contributions and to underscore the importance of civic engagement at all levels, the nomination of Laura Wooten Hall was approved by the Princeton Board of Trustees and announced, appropriately, on Monday, just a day before New Jersey primary elections yesterday. The nomination was recommended to trustees by the Council of Princeton University‘s Community Naming Committee, which is made up of representatives from faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“I am grateful to the nominating committee for this inspiring recommendation, and I am thrilled that Princeton is honoring Laura Wooten for her extraordinary contributions to our nation and to the democratic process,” said Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber. . “Adding Laura Wooten’s name to our campus tapestry will recognize Princeton’s history, the breadth of our community, and the positive impact a remarkable individual can have through their lifelong dedication to public service and the civic values.”

Wooten, who worked on the campus of Princeton University for more than 27 years and also worked as a nursing aide at Princeton Medical Center and a teaching assistant at Community Park School, volunteered during the local, primary and general elections in New Jersey for 79 years, until his death in 2019 at the age of 98.

Born in North Carolina in 1920, Wooten moved to Princeton at age 4 and graduated from Princeton High School in 1939, the same year she began working at the polls.

On July 23 of last year, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the “Laura Wooten Law,” requiring statewide middle school civics.

“Laura Wooten’s life is a study in civics,” Murphy said during the signing ceremony. “She established a tremendous legacy of service. More importantly, in her life, born in the segregated South, she persevered through sexism and racism,

including right here in New Jersey. His life is proof that change in a democracy does not come from those who hold elected office, but from the work of ordinary citizens.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Wooten’s daughter, Yvonne Hill, highlighted her mother’s commitment to the democratic process and the importance of voting to help bring about change. “His famous words were, ‘Don’t say you can’t tell the difference. How can you make a difference if you don’t vote? Hill said.

Wooten has also been honored by the New Jersey State Senate, the City of Princeton, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, the National Association of Secretaries of State, the New Jersey Chapter of the NAACP, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization comprising more than 200 African-American-owned community newspapers.

Currently named Marx Hall, the building which will be renamed Laura Wooten Hall, effective July 1, is located on Washington Road and houses the University Center for Human Values, academic offices, a departmental library and teaching spaces.

“Voting is your voice, so if you don’t go out and vote for things, there will never be any change,” Wooten said in a 2018 interview with Princeton University. “That’s the only way to get change is to vote. The privilege in a democracy to be able to vote means a lot to me.

Comments are closed.