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Black Valedictorian In Mississippi Trolled By Racists

| by Michael Allen
Cleveland High SchoolCleveland High School

Jasmine Shepard, a young African-American woman, has become the target of racist hate after becoming the first black valedictorian at a high school in Cleveland, Mississippi.

According to a lawsuit filed by Jasmine's mom, Sherry Shepard, in June, the problems began when a white student, who she says had a lower grade point average at Cleveland High School than Jasmine, was named "co-valedictorian" in May 2016, noted The Washington Post.

Sherry's federal lawsuit against the Cleveland School District recalls the history of the area: "Prior to 2016, all of Cleveland High School’s valedictorians were white. As a result of the school official’s unprecedented action of making an African-American student share the valedictorian award with a white student, the defendants discriminated against."

Jamie Jacks, a lawyer for the school district, said the lawsuit was "frivolous," and asserted that the two students "had identical grade point averages."

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"As such, under school board policy, they were both named valedictorian of their graduating class," said Jacks. "The district’s policy is racially neutral and fair to students."

Sherry stated in her lawsuit that the "co-valedictorian" decision happened "on the heels of a federal judge’s ruling that the Cleveland School District had failed to desegregate its schools approximately 50 years" after being ordered to do so.

The blowback from the lawsuit has resulted in racist posts on the Facebook page Justice For Jasmine, which Sherry set up for her daughter, notes the Daily Mail.

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"You n****** and your self entitled actions make me sick," one Facebook user wrote. "You shouldn't even be at the same school as white people! Black lives don't mean s***!"

Jasmine replied: "Throughout my life, my parents shielded me from [such] behavior…, but now I see that I will have to face this head on. You can send me these types of messages but those sentiments will not be returned."

"You're simply butthurt that another student is white and you feel like you deserve special attention simply based on the color of your skin," another Facebook user wrote.

A third Facebook called Sherry a "thieving racist" and told her "[f]eel free to leave Mississippi and live in Iraq or Syria."

Another Facebook user posted: "Stop playing the 'I'M BLACK SO I'M SPECIAL' card and put on your grown-up pants."

A fifth Facebook user called the mother an daughter "racist" and "b****," and then added a biblical message: "Using god to disguise your hatred sent you straight to hell."

Sherry and Jasmine would not talk to the Daily Mail, but Jasmine's aunt, Sheila Shepard, told the media outlet: "There is so much going on right now We have to be concerned for the safety and security of everyone."

The Rev. Ed Duvall, who supports the Shepards, said many white parents may pull their children from the public high school because it's desegregated like every other public school in the U.S.

"[Jasmine's case] does matter," Duvall said. "The Cleveland School District needs to be exposed for the evil that it has perpetrated on the black folk over so many years. There is no going forward until there is an admission that they have done the people wrong."

Sources: The Washington Post, Daily Mail / Photo credit: CHSWildcats/Wikimedia Commons, Stuart Seeger/Flickr, Travis/Flickr

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