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ABC: Black Valedictorian Recognized After 75 Years

ABC: Black Valedictorian Recognized After 75 Years:

Fannetta Nelson Gordon was finally recognized yesterday as the valedictorian of Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh—an honor denied her in 1936 because of her race.

… Gordon overcame the wrong that was done to her when the school principal pressured music teacher Carl McVicker to change Gordon’s grade from an A to a B so she wouldn’t be first in her class—an honor that her older sister, Sophia, had achieved two years earlier. The principal didn’t want two black valedictorians within two years, the family says.

… Gordon—whose official transcript ranked her fourth in the 155-student class—went on to become the accompanist for the National Negro Opera Company and played at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Hall. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, she became a high school German and English teacher and later was named by the governor as a senior adviser for English and foreign languages in the state Education Department.

But she never got over being deprived of her rightful status as valedictorian, her family says. “It was one of the most painful episodes of her life,” says her niece, Gloria Wofford. “He erased her A and gave her a B because she was black.”

… The Pittsburgh School District has not officially recognized Gordon as valedictorian. “It does appear there were erasure marks on the transcript—we can’t confirm the back story” because the principal and music teacher are dead, said spokeswoman Ebony Pugh. “What the district does recognize is that Fannetta Nelson Gordon was a high-achieving student.”

Stare. Stare Stare Stare.

via The Root

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2 comments to ABC: Black Valedictorian Recognized After 75 Years

  • I’m trying not to let this story break my heart … and failing.

  • Mell

    Oh my. I remember something like this happening in the Morgan Freeman documentary: Prom Night in Mississippi. The black girl was to be the valediction, but at the last minute, they said the white girl got a higher grade, so she was given the honor of Valedictorian. The black girl looked cheated and she was.