The Princeton demonstrations have made us all more aware of Wilson's bigotry and denial of rights and opportunities to black Americans. One writer describes a heated encounter between Wilson and some black leaders.
The most thorough account of his re-segregation of the executive branch appears to be in this excellent book by Eric Yellin, Racism in the Nation's Service. Here is his balanced judgment:
That analysis persuades me that Princeton and we here in Washington can continue to honor Wilson for his praiseworthy accomplishments even while bearing in mind his objectionable views and actions. Hardly any one is all saint or all sinner; we can weigh virtues and vices before rendering judgment.In public memory, Woodrow Wilson stands alone at the center of this story. While Wilson strongly supported segregation, there is no evidence that he oversaw its implementation or ensured consistency through a clear directive. Wilson was an aloof and shadowy chief executive when it came to personnel management, even in the area of racial discrimination. Instead, it was the men Wilson appointed to run his government who threaded white supremacy into the federal bureaucracy....The result was a more complex regime with a larger cast of characters. Wilson’s most remarkable role came after the dirty work was well underway, when he blessed the marriage of progressive politics and state-sponsored racism as necessary for good government.