West Point High is a poorly performing 81% Black high school in the Mississippi town of West Point. According to public records, Black students achieve an average ACT score of 15, while the school’s White minority, who make up 17% of the student body, earn an average of 19. White students score an average of 27% higher on the ACT. White students are also 63% more likely to pass the state’s math proficiency test and 59% more likely to pass the English proficiency test. In addition, white students are 157% more likely to be taking advanced placement classes than Black students.
However, the school name two Black female students as the 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian. This brought praise from local media and the NAACP, Except they were not the top two performing students. They were only the top two performing Black students.
Parents of the actual top-performing students, who are both White, threatened to sue. To resolve the matter, the school established a race-based dual awards system.
The top two performing studies will get awards, and the top two performing Black students were dubbed “co-valedictorian” and “co-salutatorian.” So the school will have two sets, one that earned the awards and one that was awarded for their skin color. During the graduation ceremony, the Black female “co-salutatorian” protested, declaring herself to be the “true salutatorian” when she took the stage.
West Point High is officially claiming that an employee made an honest mistake when giving the awards to two Black students.
Black racial activists have cried foul, and both families of the top-performing students say they have been threatened. The families of the two Black students are threatening to sue the school.
The New York Times reports that the issue of White students outperforming Black students is causing tension across Mississippi. Lisa M. Ross, a lawyer in Jackson, MS, says threats of lawsuits and racial accusations are common all over the state concerning High School graduations.