On Thursday, June 4, #everlopez trended on Tiktok, with a video that circulated showing a high school graduating student being denied his diploma for wearing a Mexican flag over his graduation gown.
Ever Martinez Lopez, an 18-year-old from North Carolina, wore the flag in hopes of showing pride for his country and honoring his family, who were Mexican migrants.
When it was his turn to step on the stage, the video showed the principal, Penny Cooks, asking him to take off the flag.
When he was attempting to remove it, the crowd started booing. He kept the flag on and was eventually given the customary diploma holder to push through with the ceremony.
What happened after was chaos. Students were supposed to claim the actual diploma after the ceremony, but Lopez was not given his.
Even with the support of his friends and family, the principal alongside two-security personnel asked them to leave but said they should return tomorrow to discuss the situation.
Adolfo Hurtado, Lopez’s cousin, the person responsible for sharing the video, posted a three-part explainer on what really went down to clear up the confusion as he received a comment about teachers from Asheboro City Schools posting about the issue of Facebook.
The trend #everlopez had accumulated 4.1 million views, with Tiktok users showing their disappointment on the situation claiming that it was a “racist act.”
Statement of the school administration
On the same day, Asheboro City Schools released a statement, denying that it was an act of racism, as they do “support” the student’s expression of their heritage.
Lopez’s case for not receiving the diploma was because of the “violation of the dress code.”
“The heart of the issue is the fact that the student did not follow the established dress code for the event and detracted from the importance and the solemnity of the ceremony. Our dress code is in place to ensure the dignity of the event is upheld and is fair to all students. Graduation is a milestone event, and it is grossly unfair for one individual to diminish this event by violating the dress code,” Asheboro City Schools statement posted on their website on June 4.
The school said that they had sent an email beforehand containing the details about the graduation which included the policies and that “wearing of a flag of any kind is a violation of the dress code.”
Hurtado did not agree to this claim. He showed the exact email the school sent to the students. It stated that students shall abide by the school dress code, males were to wear a dress shirt with a color, dress pants, dress shoes and socks while females would wear blouse and skirt, dress or dress pants and dress shoes.
The email only highlighted that no flip flops or tennis shoes were to be worn.
Protests and petitions
A small protest took place outside of the school on June 5 with people holding up signs such as “free Ever’s diploma” and “honk if you’re not racist” and draped Mexican flags on their clothes as a support to Lopez. The protest went on for two days.
An online petition was even uploaded on change.org to gather signatures in support of Lopez’s plight to get his diploma.
A total of 103,826 signed the petition.
The good news is that the protests were not in vain because on June 7, Lopez finally received his diploma. He walked out of the school proudly raising his diploma and was welcomed by cheers from his supporters.