One of the proudest moments for many Latino students is when they finally receive their diploma, whether in high school or any other stage of their professional life. However, for Ever López, the day he received his diploma will be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.
In a TikTok video that has gone viral, you can see when the faculty denies the diploma to the Latino senior from North Carolina for wearing the Mexican flag on his robe.
The video, recorded by his cousin Adolfo Hurtado, shows López being stopped by a faculty member after he, encouraged by his classmates, decided to go on stage with his flag.
Arriving in front of the school principal, identified as Penny Crooks, both López and members of the audience watched in amazement as the young student was denied his diploma.
“Sadly, he did not get the diploma. The teacher wants him to apologize — obviously, he’s not going to do that,” Hurtado said in a separate video afterward.
As NBC Latino reported, the student’s family contacted the district superintendent, who attended the ceremony but was told the decision was up to the principal. Finally, his family spoke with Crooks in her office. Although she was not in the room, Hill said family members told her that López violated the dress code and was asked to apologize in order to receive his diploma.
Although the school district claimed the incident had been “misrepresented” on social media to the general public, it was a blatant act of racism.
As NBC continued, witnesses told local media that other students had decorated their caps and gowns but were not reprimanded. Students planned a protest at the high school on Friday, and a petition on Change.org demanding that López receive his diploma got more than 20,000 signatures.
According to a press release from the Latinx organization Siembra NC, López’s family will hold a press conference this Monday morning to explain their version of the events that occurred and seek a solution for Ever López and for all students who want to “express pride in their racial and ethnic heritage.”
Siembra explained that the López incident does not occur in isolation. Rather, it comes as a wave of Republican-sponsored bills limiting the teaching of race “sweeps the country.”
Last month, the GOP-led North Carolina State House passed HB 324, which would severely restrict what students can learn about race and the history of racism. About half of the students at Asheboro High School are Latino.
“We know many of the educators and administrators in Asheboro City Schools, including the principal, have a history of supporting Latino students, and we’re hopeful they will come to an agreement with students like Ever about how they can recognize their racial and ethnic heritage at future graduation ceremonies,” said Kelly Morales, executive director of Siembra NC, which is supporting the family.