Mother of African-American Student Who Was Forced to Share Valedictorian Title Chooses to Fight Back

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The mother of a recent high school graduate is filing a lawsuit against a Mississippi school district after her African-American daughter was forced to share her title as valedictorian with a white student who she claims had a lower grade point average.

The suit, which was filed Tuesday, says that Jasmine Shepard and her mother were informed the day before graduation that she would be named “co-valedictorian” along with her classmate.

According to Jasmine’s mother, Sherry, Jasmine was also forced to walk behind and give her speech after the white valedictorian. While she claims to not be angry with the other student named the valedictorian, calling her ‘the kindest-hearted, sweetest person,” Shepard does feel that Cleveland high school racially discriminated against her daughter.

Jasmine was the school’s first Black valedictorian according to her mother’s suit, and this is not the first time the school’s district has had problems involving racial tension. Last year, a federal judge found that the district had failed to desegregate its schools despite being mandated to do so over 50 years ago.

Sherry Shepard said, “A child, when they earn honors, they are entitled to receive them.” Her lawsuit calls for Jasmine to be named “sole-valedictorian” and monetary compensation. While an attorney for the school district called the lawsuit “frivolous”, the Shepards’ case has gained much attention on social media sites such as Twitter and the outcome already seems to be highly anticipated.

 

Walker's Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business.

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