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  • Ed Gaines

Black Woman Finally Named Valedictorian 38 Years After School Snubbed Her

55-year-old woman has been honored 38 years after her Illinois high school did not make her its first Black valedictorian.

Tracey Meares was awarded the title on April 16 by the superintendent of Springfield Public Schools District 186 after a screening of the documentary "No Title for Tracey.”

According to CNN,

Despite earning superior grades, Meares was shared the title of "Top Student" with a White student at her 1984 graduation. In the years before her graduation, the top student was named "valedictorian" and the second student "salutatorian,"

Meares, a popular cheerleader in high school, said at the time she felt "upset and angry," and believes she was passed over for the title valedictorian because she's Black.

She said All these years later, it's still painful. “The world that I live in, I'm powerful. I'm confident. Not vulnerable," “The resonance that the film has had with so many people is also incredibly powerful," "The ways structural racism and race discrimination can work are not the kinds of ways that people understand, right? It's not always really obvious. But it's still deep. “Gestures of reconciliation are important and necessary,"

She told People,

"We want every student to have a feeling of belonging in all aspects of school and a sense of becoming as they leave our schools with a plan for college and career. It is our responsibility to ensure that our system supports students in reaching their full potential. We have seen that high school experiences can have a profound, lifelong impact," added Gill. "It was an honor to have Tracey here and a privilege to learn from such an accomplished alumna."

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