Exclusive: Taiylar Ball to Join Graduating Class
A suburban Chicago high school senior no longer has to battle the uncertainty of whether or not she can walk across the stage Sunday at graduation.
Taiylar Ball, 18, was banned from her senior prom at Homewood Flossmoor High School and was told she couldn’t participate in graduation because of some words in her spoken word piece “Dear Black Girls,” which she performed at a school talent show.
She exclusively told JETMag.com earlier this week that her principal didn’t approve of the language choice in the poem. The performance piece included the term n*gga,” which were meant in a context to “empower the Black race” and “combat stereotypes that people have about Black people,” Ball explained.
But after much anticipation, the school’s administration reversed its decision and she will walk with her classmates. Ball’s lawyer Rahsaan Gordon confirmed the reversal to EBONY.com on Wednesday.
The two, along with Ball’s mother, met with the Homewood Flossmoor officials Wednesday afternoon after he offered his legal services upon hearing her story. She said it helped tremendously to have him on her side during the meeting, an atmosphere she described as heavy with tension. But now she says she’s glad she can now focus her attention on graduation and college.
I am excited to walk Sunday!! BUT The “Dear Black Girls” message still stands and will continue.
— Queen Taiy✨ (@TaiylarStarrxo) May 25, 2016
“The biggest thing I learned is to stay strong and stand up for what you believe in because people will see your passion, people will see how you feel about it and they’ll support it,” she said, adding that the poem is much bigger than her. She said her experience shows that cultural competence is needed, especially at schools like hers which is predominately African American. Her situation with the school gained national attention after JETMag.com’s interview with Ball the day of the prom.
Ball’s supporters were outraged and the Twittersphere came alive. Her story had even reached Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who tweeted.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 22, 2016
Ball said she remains shocked by the media attention and the wave of support.
“I didn’t think it would be this big but it’s good because it needed that attention,” she said.
The National Honor Society member has been accepted into 11 colleges and universities in total and received more than $1 million in scholarships.
Ball is already calling Florida A&M University home. She was offered a full scholarship and she will enter the fall as a biology/pre-med student. She has plans to work with women from poor communities.
“Taiylar is a bright student with a stellar academic profile,” said William E. Hudson Jr., Vice President for Student Affairs in an email statement. “We are excited to welcome her and all of our incoming Rattlers to the Hill. We look forward to offering Taiylar, and her classmates, a living and learning environment that will ensure that she continues to soar academically.”
Ball said that FAMU has been very supportive and she’s even been asked to perform her “Dear Black Girls’ poem later this year at a special program.
“I’m excited to go there,” she said. “It’s very family oriented and I’m a part of the family already.”