A graduating senior at Elk Grove High School outside Sacramento, Nyree Holmes, says he was just trying to "show I'm proud of who I am" by wearing a traditional African kente cloth over his graduation robe at a ceremony last week. Rules stated that nothing could be worn over the robes except medals, cords, or pins received through the school, but as the AP reports, Holmes simply wanted to add something personal to the event, in the form of the color Ghanian cloth pictured above. The fact that the school responded by having Holmes escorted from the graduation stage by sheriff's deputies has set off a firestorm of media response, though, given the innocence of his actions, and the fact that he's African American.
Holmes made it on stage to shake hands with the principal of the high school, Maria Osborne, wearing the kente, but then was met by deputies as soon as he left the stage. He had to return to the arena later to collect his diploma with the help of a security guard.
Holmes told the AP, "The kente represents my culture that I have no other links to. I wanted to show I'm proud of who I am and that as the descendant of slaves, I represent Africa and my ancestry."
And, in the way of many teenagers, he says he might have backed down were it not for an activities director who failed to see his side of things, and told him he had to remove the cloth. "I understood the rules. But I feel if [the activities director] would had heard what I was saying, I may have just put it in my pocket and wait until after graduation to wear it," Holmes says. "But I felt that he wasn't listening to what I was saying or respecting my opinion."
The event took place at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, and Xanthi Pinkerton of the Elk Grove Unified School District tells ABC 7, regarding the spectacle with sheriff's escort, "Things could have been handled differently, if we had perhaps more personnel, site personnel administrated from the school site to talk with the student."
Principal Osborne met with Holmes's parents and apologized for the incident.
But now the incident has inspired headlines like this one, from Boing Boing: "Student ejected from ceremony for graduating while black."
Previously: Following Win Over Warriors, Thunder Player Calls Curry And Thompson 'Little Monkeys'