Tallahassee, FL — Almost every student's dream is to walk across the stage with friends and family clapping or yelling their names to celebrate their four years of hard work and accomplishments before they step into adulthood.
This honorable moment for Florida student Jacob Rush could have been deprived of him if he didn't change his hairstyle.
Social media went into an uproar in mid-March when Jacob's mother posted that her son's school, Abeka Christian Academy, rejected his application to walk across the stage at graduation due to him having locs.
His mother, Latrenda Rush, started an online petition asking for the school to change its unjust policy. She did this not only for her son but also for the other students who had locs or braids.
The petition received more than 101,000 signatures.
Abeka Christian Academy posted an apology on social media and removed the word "dreadlocks" from its policy.
"Abeka Academy apologizes for the insensitive rule of 'no dreadlocks' in the dress and hair guidelines for our optional homeschool graduation," the school said in a statement posted to Instagram and Facebook. "This does not reflect our desire to respect and serve the broad diversity among ABA students. Therefore, we have removed this reference from our requirements."
However, Rush's family didn't think the school's gesture was enough and didn't want any other student to be affected by the policy. Latrenda Rush hired attorney Sue-Ann Robinson to help protest against the school's rule.
"I think that they've never had anyone to challenge them," his mother told Atlanta Black Star. "There's an old saying that when someone is doing wrong, or has done wrong, they're not sorry for what they've done, but they started for how they got caught."
On May 21, male students with hair exceeding their ears were able to fulfill their dream and walk across the stage.
"I am glad Jacob will be able to show up as his whole self for this milestone, and it is my honor to attend and celebrate this achievement with him and his family," Robinson told Atlanta Black Star.
Robinson and the Rush family hope the Crown Act — a law banning any hair-related discrimination based on national origin or race — becomes a law soon, so no other students in any state have to go through this injustice. The House approved the bill on March 18; however, it still has to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden before becoming law.
"There are systems still in place that discriminate against African-Americans every day and attempt to strip away at our right to exist," Robinson told Atlanta Black Star. "The Crown Act and standing up for an amazing student like Jacob is how we fight back."