According to a federal lawsuit, recent high school graduate Olecia James claims she was denied her rightful place as salutatorian of her Mississippi high school’s graduating class so that the district would not cause an issue among the town’s white residents.
In the lawsuit, uploaded for viewing by The Hill, James seeks monetary damages and a change in the race-based policies she says the Cleveland School District used to violate her rights to equal protection under the law.
James graduated last year from Cleveland, Miss.’s brand-new and recently integrated Cleveland Central High School as part of its inaugural class. Until recently Cleveland had two separate high school, one for white students and another for Black students. In her suit, James says she had the second-highest grades in the graduating class, but that the honor of salutatorian was given to a white male student with lower grades.
According to the suit the district made the decision, “to prevent white flight.” Apparently, the district was nervous about how white people would react if Olecia James’ name was announced as salutatorian.
According to James, in their attempts to justify giving the white boy her salutatorian spot, district officials changed her grades on her school records to make it seem that they were lower.
They soon apologized James says, but still presented the white student as salutatorian. They justified their decision giving more educational weight to the classes he had taken at the historically white high school over the ones James had taken at the historically black high school.
School district officials had no comment when contacted by the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger.
Attorney Lisa Ross, who represents James, told the Clarion-Ledger what should be obvious to anyone:
“These positions that are set aside for students who work hard and do well, they should be awarded on who does the best,” Ross said. “And it should be done without consideration as to whether whites will leave the school district if their kids are not selected for awards.”
Celebrity High School Dropouts
1. Lil Wayne1 of 26
2. Eminem2 of 26
3. Drake3 of 26
4. Andre 30004 of 26
5. Fantasia5 of 26
6. Chaka Khan dropped out of school and now has a foundation that helps disadvantaged youth receive a quality education. PR6 of 26
7. 50 Cent was expelled from high school in the 10th grade for possession of crack and got his G.E.D. while in jail. (AP)7 of 26
8. Mary J. Blige dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and still regrets it. (AP)8 of 26
9. Bill Cosby dropped out of high school and eventually joined the Navy where he earned his high school diploma. (AP)9 of 26
10. Tyler Perry dropped out of high school when he was 16 but eventually earned his G.E.D. (AP)10 of 26
11. Robert DeNiro was a high school dropout. At age 68 was given an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Bates College. AP11 of 26
12. Berry Gordy dropped out of high school to pursue a boxing career. Apparently, he was better at music than in the ring.12 of 26
13. Aretha Franklin dropped out of high school at age 15 and received an honorary degree from Princeton at age 70. (AP)13 of 26
14. Pink dropped out of high school around age 15 but got her G.E.D. in 1998. (AP)14 of 26
15. Jay Z dropped out of high school and starting dealing drugs before finding salvation & money in hip hop. (AP)15 of 26
16. Chris Rock dropped out of high school at age 17 to pursue his dream of being a comedian. He later got his G.E.D.(AP)16 of 26
17. Oscar winning actor Sidney Poitier dropped out of school at age 13 to help his father tend to the tomato farm.(AP)17 of 26
18. Whoopi Goldberg struggled with dyslexia and out of frustration dropped out of school at age 17. (AP)18 of 26
19. Rock & Roll Hall of Famer David Bowie & his wife Supermodel Iman both dropped out of high school.(AP)19 of 26
20. Rapper, actor & author LL Cool J dropped out of high school to record his debut album.(AP)20 of 26
21. Mark Wahlberg recently admitted to being a high school dropout, but is planning on getting his G.E.D. (AP)21 of 26
22. Tracy Morgan dropped out of high school to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian.(AP)22 of 26
23. Johnny Depp dropped out of school at age 15 to become a rock star. career. We're guessing acting was his backup plan.(AP)23 of 26
24. Jessica Simpson dropped out of high school her senior year to pursue her music career. She later got her G.E.D.(AP)24 of 26
25. Olympic Gold Medalist George Foreman dropped out of high school and joined the Job Corps where he learned how to box. (AP)25 of 26
26. Quentin Tarantino dropped out of school at age 16 to pursue his dreams of acting. (AP)26 of 26
Black Student Robbed Of Salutatorian Because District Wanted To Appease Racist Town was originally published on blackamericaweb.com