FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina --A graduation controversy is brewing in Cumberland County after the principal at 71st High School reportedly told nearly a dozen seniors in the Black History Club they cannot wear their stoles at graduation.
The seniors in the club say their stoles represent not only their heritage, but school pride as well, and they can't understand why the principal won't let them walk across the stage wearing the stoles.
"These were actually hand-knitted in Kenya," said student Deovion Holloway. "It's going to be unfair all my other peers having their stoles on, and not being able to wear mine."
It's a familiar sight at graduations. Last year, 71st seniors proudly displayed the cords and stoles of their high school clubs. Many will do it again this year.
Except for members of the Black History Club.
"Being told I can't wear mine, because it doesn't fit guidelines or my principal doesn't want to go for a certain look," Holloway said.
71st Principal Myron Williams refuses to comment on his decision.
A statement from Cumberland County Schools simply says: "The wearing of cords or stoles outside the district-wide recognized cords are a site-based decision made by the principal."
It's a bitter disappointment for the Black History Club seniors who say they have worked long and hard this year to get their new club off the ground.
"All the other clubs get to wear their stoles, so we shouldn't be excluded out," said club member Rashaun Hines.
Ananda Richardson, another senior, said, "I did my part in the club, even if this is my first year. Mr. Williams should have said something way beforehand if he did not approve of the club."
At this point, the seniors said, there isn't really much they can do. They fear if they complain too loudly, the principal won't let them be a part of graduation, so they'll have to abide by his decision.
A decision that will tinge their joy and accomplishments with disappointment.