Nyree Holmes is an 18-year-old merit scholar who has gotten plenty of attention for not removing his kente cloth during his high school graduation. The black merit scholar explained the importance of wearing the traditional African cloth during his graduation ceremony on Tuesday in California. But when Nyree was instructed not to don his kente cloth while walking across the stage to accept his diploma, the trouble began.
Holmes decided to keep his kente cloth draped atop his graduation robe like a scarf, which is a common graduation tradition seen at many historically black colleges and universities. However, Nyree was greeted by three police officers who ended up forcing Nyree to leave the arena and miss much of the graduation ceremony.
— Nyree Holmes (@nyreehesr) May 25, 2016
As noted in the above Twitter posts from Nyree’s account, Holmes explained how school authorities asked him for his African kente cloth, and that he refused to give it up. Nyree next claimed that he initially wasn’t allowed to retrieve his diploma, nor turn in his cap and gown — but a black security guard allowed him to enter the building once more.
According to the Daily Mail, the melee over the kente cloth at graduation happened at the Sleep Train Arena, where the graduation celebration for Cosumnes Oaks High School was held. The kente cloth is a cultural representation from Ghana, which is sized more like a scarf than a large blanket that would be wrapped around a graduation robe.
However, it was still deemed that Nyree’s kente cloth wasn’t appropriate for him to wear as he walked across the stage, but Holmes’ reasons for why the cloth was important to him were not enough for school authorities to say yes. Nyree is getting plenty of support on social media, such as seen in the below Twitter post of another graduate wearing his own kente cloth at his graduation.
— Dirk Nobiscuit (@BuffDaddy1914) May 28, 2016
Holmes felt as though the kente cloth represented his blackness and his heritage, so after buying the kente cloth from Amazon, he decided to don the cloth for such an important life event. The thing that bothered Nyree the most, according to Holmes, was the manner in which the school administrator refused to listen to the graduate and his reasons for wanting to wear the cultural garment.
As seen in the above video, police deputies are shown taking Nyree out of graduation. Holmes also wrote about being upset that the school administrator rushed off to get police officers instead of listening to Nyree’s concerns. Holmes was allowed to walk across the stage — right where the authorities were waiting to take him away like a criminal.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department officers met Nyree and took him away, leaving Holmes feeling afraid. Reactions to Nyree’s kente cloth brouhaha are getting mixed reactions on social media. While many people agree that Holmes’ desire to wear a kente cloth was a common one that should not have resulted in authorities kicking him out — others believe Nyree should have obeyed authorities and not have worn the kente cloth.
“I was pretty frightened as a young African American male with three officers as they were walking me through this secluded corridor where no one else was. I asked if I could get my diploma and drop off my cap and gown, but they told me to keep on walking. Once I got a hold of my mom, I told her to meet me outside of the arena and that I was no longer apart of the ceremony. There were a lot of mixed emotions. I was shocked and surprised.”
[Photo by AP Photo/AJC Staff Photo/Joey Ivansco]