On Wednesday, May 18th, African-American Amite High School senior and valedictorian, Andrew Jones was supposed to walk and graduate with his fellow classmates. That failed to happen when Jones showed up to the Amite’s graduation ceremony bearing a goatee along with his cap and gown. Administrators from the district approached the student, and told him to either shave or leave, saying it was against school dress code. When Andrew refused, officials stripped him of his cap, gown, honor cords, and whatever he was going to say to his classmates. This was banning him from participating in the ceremony. His aunt told The Washington Post, “They snatched his robe off him, and they took his awards. He had to sit in the stands and watch his friends and cousins graduate.” Jones says he had a beard his high school career, and no one ever complained to him. He also added that students (white students) from other schools in the district had graduated with facial hair a week before. Jones did think about the offer to shave before he refused based on these unfair reasons.
If the school isn’t going to follow the rules they set for the whole year and only enforce it at graduation, then it’s wrong. The CEO of the American Mustache Institute (yes it’s a real thing) agrees with this point saying, “represents a clear violation of (Jones’) civil liberties in discriminating against his Mustached American lifestyle.” Dr. Adam Paul Causgrove, head of AMI, wrote in a letter to the board that, “The enforcement of said discriminatory policy is unacceptable to people of Mustached American heritage and the Mustached American community at large as it represents a clear and dangerous precedence and an egregious violation of young people’s’ civil liberties.” Along with the support of the AMI, Jones has the support of the NAACP, who organized a protest rally with a local church on May 23 to advocate that members of the school board should resign. In light of the matter, people are asking: Is this racism or rules?