Last Friday Amy Weaver of the OPELIKA-AUBURN (AL) NEWS broke the news that Auburn Junior High ninth-grader Blaise Taylor, 14-year-old son of Auburn University assistant head football coach Trooper Taylor, was suing the school system for racial discrimination.
The federal lawsuit was prompted by the grooming policy of the school’s basketball coach, Frank Tolbert. Tolbert, who is black, has had the rule in place for 30 years.
This week the News provided a follow-up on the case:
The suit is now expected to go to court Dec. 21 in Montgomery.
Taylor’s son Blaise Taylor, a 9th-grader who refused to remove his braids, has been prevented from playing for the junior varsity basketball team because of his hairstyle. Blaise refused to change it, saying braids were important to him as a connection to his role models.
On Friday in Montgomery, the Taylors filed a federal lawsuit alleging head basketball coach Frank Tolbert’s grooming policy is racially discriminatory since it singles out a hairstyle almost exclusively worn by black players while allowing white players to wear unkempt hair.
Last Wednesday, Auburn City Schools board of education President Laura Cooper, Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Jenkins and attorney Rick Davidson supported Tolbert’s right to the grooming policy at the school.
Attorney Rick Davidson is representing Auburn City Schools:
“We support Coach Tolbert and the other coaches, band instructors and leaders of all of our extracurricular activities and believe that each must be given the necessary discretion to conduct their programs as they reasonably see fit,” Davidson said.
Cooper said hundreds of students have played under Tolbert’s rules during the 30 years he has been at Auburn High School, and the policy was explained to students before and during tryouts.
Davidson said the board believes the regulations regarding personal appearance are constitutionally valid.
I’ll forever defend the right of every American to wear their hair anyway they want.
But in the context of what a civil rights hero like MLK went through, is it unreasonable to think that a federal lawsuit in this situation does a disservice to the cause of racial equality?
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