Atlanta Black Star has reported that An 18-year-old Black student was removed from graduation after he refused to take off his kente cloth. Nyree Holmes attended the diverse but predominately white Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove, California. In a story he shared on Twitter May 24, the merit scholar says he was able to walk across the stage, but police officers greeted him at the other end.
Holmes shared the story after he was escorted out from Sleep Train Arena by three Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department officers. He tells Atlanta Black Star it was important for him to wear the traditional African print because as a “descendant of slaves, I have no firm connection to my roots in Africa.”
“I wanted to wear my kente cloth as a representation of my pride in my ancestors, to display my cultural and religious heritage,” he continues. “As my particular cloth was made by Christians in Ghana, where the kente cloth has been worn by royalty and during important ceremonies for hundreds if not thousands of years.”
The graduate says his parents were shocked the school had police remove him from the ceremony, adding he was greeted with a mix of positive and negative reactions on Twitter.
“I have received a lot of support and outrage from fellow minorities as well as white people, who see the infringement upon my freedom of expression as appaling and shocking,” he tells ABS. “I have also heard of some rumblings within the school of objection as to how I responded on Twitter, especially my tweet that reached over ten-thousand people, explicitly stating “f—- Cosumnes Oaks High School.”
He later deleted the tweet.
As far as future plans, Holmes will attend California State University, Fullerton this fall. He will major in cinema arts “to achieve my dream of becoming an impactful film director.”
If other students are in a similar situation this graduation season, the future filmmaker advises them to stand up for their believes and be true to themselves.
“I would also tell them to look upon the horrific experiences of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s for inspiration and the fact that we cannot stop seeking equality,” he says. “If we are forced to wear the European cap and gowns [then] we should be able to wear the African Kente Cloth.”