Student Says She Was Rejected as Sole Valedictorian Because She Is Black

Student Says She Was Rejected as Sole Valedictorian Because She Is Black

Kymberly Wimberly has filed a discrimination complaint against her school for denying her from being sole valedictorian.

Published July 28, 2011

An Arkansas high school is building up our students to bring them back down.


Kymberly Wimberly, an 18-year-old Black student, was told that she could not be valedictorian at McGehee High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, because it would create a “big mess” at the predominately white school.


Wimberly has now filed a complaint in federal court in response to school administrators treating her as inferior to her peers, though, in fact, she was a better student.


Wimberly received only a single B during her entire four years at McGehee High School. She received the highest G.P.A. in her class and challenged herself with a number of honors and advanced placement classes. Though her performance excelled above all others, Darrel Thompson, the school’s principal, told Wimberly that he decided to name a white student, whose G.P.A. was lower than Wimberly’s, as co-valedictorian, according to the complaint.


Wimberly and her mother, a school employee, tried to complain to the school board, but school officials refused to allow it. According to Wimberly, Superintendent Thomas Gathen denied Wimberly the opportunity to express her complaint to the school board because she “filled out the wrong form” and therefore she would have to wait until the next school board meeting, scheduled more than a month past graduation, to appeal the decision.


The complaint goes on to say that African-American students were routinely discouraged from taking honors and advance placement classes because administrators would say that the work was “too hard” for minority students.


There has not been an African-American valedictorian at the school since 1989. Twenty-two years later, it doesn’t appear that progress has been made. It’s unfortunate that in a liberal arts environment, accomplishments, no matter your race, are being punished and not celebrated.  


Wimberly plans to attend the University of Arkansas in the fall.


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(Photo: Express-Times /Landov)

Written by By Danielle Wright


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