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Entries in Race (12)

Tuesday
Jul262011

Woman Denied Sole Valedictorian Status Because of Race, Lawsuit Says

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MCGEHEE, Ark.) -- A black Arkansas teen who graduated at the top of her class is suing her high school for racial discrimination after the principal decided to name a white student with a lower GPA as co-valedictorian.

Kymberly Wimberly, 18, told ABC News she always dreamed about being at the top of her class at McGehee High School.

"When I found out I was valedictorian, I was ecstatic," she said.

That soon changed when Wimberly's mother, Molly Bratton, who works at the school as a media specialist, overheard school officials saying they wanted to avoid the "big mess" that would happen with Wimberly as valedictorian, the teen said.

The lawsuit alleges there was a "pattern and practice of school administrators and personnel treating the African-American students less favorably than the Caucasian ones."

"I told [the co-valedictorian] this isn't fair. This is an administrative decision," Wimberly said, saying she told the student: "We both know if the tables were turned, there wouldn't be a co-valedictorian."

She said the other student agreed.

Wimberly, who took Advanced Placement and honors courses, managed to maintain the top GPA, even though she gave birth to a daughter during her junior year.

"I'm not going to say it wasn't difficult," she said. "My teachers thought I'd fall flat on my face, but I kept trying to succeed."

Her lawyer, John Walker, said discrimination is unfortunately still present in the school system.

"There's a history of oppression where people don't speak up for themselves," Walker said. "White students are elevated ahead of black students in order to allow that position to be maintained by white students."

The McGehee School District did not respond to ABC News' request for an interview.

Wimberly said she will be attending the University of Arkansas beginning this fall and plans to major in biology.

She is asking for punitive damages and for the school record to be changed, reflecting her as the sole valedictorian for the class of 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr032011

Texas Town Raises Confederate Flag, Sparks Racial Tensions

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PALESTINE, Texas) -- The raising of the Confederate flag along with the U.S. and state flag outside an east Texas courthouse has divided the town over whether the flying of the "Stars and Bars" is a tribute to racial oppression.

A replica of the original Confederate flag was raised outside the Anderson County Courthouse in Palestine, Texas, Friday after county commissioners narrowly approved a motion to fly the flag there throughout April in honor of Confederate History Month.

Though the officials said the decision had nothing to do with race, some members of the community said they cannot see the Confederate flag separate from the South's support for slavery, which was the central issue in the Civil War.

Kenneth Davidson, a veteran and president of the local chapter of the NAACP, led a protest at the ceremony, when a group of residents turned their backs as the flag was raised.

"I did not fight for this flag," Davidson told ABC affiliate KLTV in Longview, Texas. "This flag was hung over my people as they were hung. This flag was flying. So, how can you celebrate this and say this is for education for me. It's not."

But other residents of the area said the raising of the flag was a moment of pride and a tribute to the 1,100 men from Anderson County who fought in the Civil War.

After the demonstration Friday, Palestine mayor Bob Herrington called an emergency meeting for Monday to consider passing a resolution asking the county to remove the flag.

Other groups of southern veteran and historical groups have looked to spread their love of Confederate history across Texas and other parts of the U.S. south. The Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans have said they want to build a Confederate memorial near the Louisiana border, and a program called Flags Across the South has made efforts to have the Confederate flag flown on private properties.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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