A high school in Florida issued an apology after it was criticized for instructing a Black honor student to cut his dreadlocks if he wanted to walk during his graduation. According to Black With No Chaser, straight-A student Jacob Rush’s excitement for his upcoming graduation turned sour when his school, Abeka Academy, sent a letter to his mother about his dreadlocks.
The letter in question highlighted the length of Rush’s dreadlocks in his senior photographs. The Black student’s mother was informed her son needed to trim his dreadlocks before he could be allowed to walk at the graduation ceremony.
The high school also justified the order by stating they had to adhere to the Pensacola Christian College’s dressing standards as the graduates will be guests on the school’s campus.
Displeased with the contents of the letter, Jacob’s mother, Latrenda Rush, launched a petition on Change.org to call the school out for their alleged racism and also solicit for support to enable Jacob to unconditionally walk at his graduation.
“Racism shines very brightly at Abeka,” Latrenda stated in the petition. “My son has worked very diligently this year and to get the news that his senior picture shows that he has ‘Locs,’ disqualifies him from marching unless he cuts them. This is very inhumane!”
“This is his culture, this [is] how God made him. Braids, afros, Loc [sic] are the ways Africa [sic] Americans wear their hair,” Latrenda added.
In the wake of the backlash that ensued after the petition circulated, Abeka Academy issued a statement apologizing for their “insensitive rule.”
“Abeka Academy apologizes for the insensitive rule of ‘no dreadlocks’ in the dress and hair guidelines for our optional homeschool graduation,” the Tuesday statement on the school’s Facebook page said. “This does not reflect our desire to respect and serve the broad diversity among ABA students. Therefore, we have removed this reference from our requirements.”
This recent incident comes in the wake of more states pushing for the passage of the CROWN Act to prevent Black people from being discriminated against because of their natural hair.