Ever López was initially denied a diploma for wearing a Mexican flag at his NC high school graduation. Now he and his family want to celebrate all Latino graduates.
Recent North Carolina high school graduate Ever López marched out the doors of Asheboro High School today with his diploma, four days after it was withheld at his graduation ceremony.
López was initially denied his diploma at his weekend graduation for draping the Mexican flag over his gown but received it Monday. The video of López’s graduation, where he was asked to remove the flag on stage, went viral, leading to an outpour of support on social media as well as multiple emails to the school, officials say.
The 18-year-old said at a press conference coordinated by Siembra NC, a statewide Latino advocacy group, that he would push to make sure what happened to him doesn’t happen to others.
“We’re going to keep fighting,” López said. “Hopefully, we’ll make a big change later on in the future.”
The López family is also coordinating a graduation party with Siembra NC for all Latino grads on June 19 in Asheboro. The event will feature voter registration pop-up booths, food trucks, and flags.
The graduation day rebuke occured as North Carolina wrestles with how to teach about race in public schools, part of a national conservative backlash against discussions of racism and US history in the classroom. The Republican-led NC House of Representatives recently passed a bill aiming to restrict how public schools can teach about racial and ethnic discrimination, a move that was opposed by many in public education that say the historical roots and effects of racism is a necessary piece of a child’s education.
“Our schools should encourage kids, especially kids who are Black, indigenous and people of color, to connect with their roots and acknowledge their families and communities,” said Kelly Morales, the executive director of Siembra NC, in a statement.
The group estimates that about half of Asheboro High School’s students are Latino.
School Claimed Dress Code Violation
Asheboro school officials claimed López committed a dress code violation at the graduation ceremony but the recent graduate denies that.
Asheboro High School students received a graduation bulletin prior to the ceremony and Lopez said he reviewed it before graduation. The bulletin was obtained by Cardinal & Pine and it does not reference or prohibit flags or any symbols of ethnic identity being worn in its dress code section.
“I don’t regret (anything),” López said. “Hopefully (the dress code) does change and (graduates) are allowed to wear whatever (they) want.”
López stressed that he was only aware of restrictions about what type of clothing to wear under his gown and that he was not aware there was anything wrong with wearing the flag over his gown.
“I just wanted to represent, wear my flag, and show my colors,” said López.
But, instead, López was told by school officials that he wouldn’t get his diploma and instead needed to call his parents. López and his parents say that the administration did not give a clear reason for withholding his certificate on graduation day or the following day, when they were asked to report to the office of Penny Crooks, the principal.
López said he was not given an explanation as to why the police were called to escort him and his family out of the office that day, but he mentioned that the school intends to follow up with his parents.
Today, López was visibly frustrated by the ordeal but stood with his family and members of the Latino community in Asheboro and addressed the media minutes after discussing the situation with school officials.
“I’m grateful knowing that I have a big community behind me and that we’ll never walk alone,” said López.