According to 18-year-old Kymberly Wimberly she was forced to share the title of Valedictorian at McGehee Secondary School’s May graduation all because she was African-American. Wimberly who has filed a federal lawsuit against the McGehee School District, its superintendent and her high school principal stated that she had the highest GPA of her graduating class, however she was not allowed to be the sole Valedictorian. Wimberly was forced to share the spotlight with a co-valedictorian; a white student with a lower GPA.
Both students were allowed to speak at the graduation even though Wimberly’s grade point average was the highest of any student in the McGehee Secondary School Class of 2011.
Wimberly, along with her mother Molly Bratton, believe that the school did not want Wimberly representing the school as Valedictorian because she was African-American and a single mother. Bratton was also blocked from addressing the school board about the issue until after the graduation ceremony.
According to school superintendent Thomas Gathen “When determining class rank, a student who takes more courses but has a lower GPA will not be “penalized.” This is the case now, according to Gathen, who told CNN the co-valediction had half a credit more in course work and either .03 or .05 less in GPA.”
The lawsuit filed by Wimberly and her mother seeks punitive damages of $75,000 as well as Kymberly Wimberly being declared the sole Valedictorian of the McGehee Secondary School Class of 2011.
My personal thoughts:
Racism rears its ugly head again. This seems to be another one of those cases where people of authority, who are also racist, can find an “out” for their racism by backing it up with ridiculous justifications. First and foremost Kymberly Wimberly should be applauded for maintaining her grades and excelling in her studies after becoming a single mother. To press on and become Valedictorian is definitely an accomplishment that she should be proud of, however she can’t celebrate because she has been forced to share the spotlight with a student whose GPA was lower than hers. This is a disgrace and the McGehee School District has shown that racism is still very much alive and kicking (but evvvverryboodddy knows that anyway) Hopefully the McGehee School District will make this right by issuing a public apology to Kymberly Wimberly and publicly announcing her the sole Valedictorian. Then maybe this story will have at least a bandaged ending since there is no replacing the actual day of the graduation.