A North Carolina student received his high school diploma Monday after he was denied it for wearing a Mexican flag over his graduation gown.
The video of Asheboro High School senior Ever Lopez went viral on TikTok last week after it appeared he was stopped by the principal for wearing the flag at the graduation ceremony.
Ever got his diploma at the school while a news conference arranged by Siembra NC, an immigration advocacy organization, took place outside the building; it was livestreamed on its Facebook account.
At the news conference, his mother, Margarita Lopez, said her intention was to seek solutions to the issue and ask for a public apology, which the family has not received. The family specifically wants to know why police escorted them out of the principal's office after they questioned why Ever didn't get his diploma.
"Because what happened on Thursday isn't just about my son, it's about our entire Latino community," she said, speaking in Spanish while Kelly Morales, Siembra NC executive director, translated in English. "As parents, we are so proud that he has taken on the honor and pride of where his roots are and where he comes from."
The press conference paused as Ever received his diploma inside the school. Later, as he held his diploma outside, he said it was not just for him, but also for the community that supported him. He said the principal told him the dress code would re-evaluated. Asked how it felt to see the faces of his parents, who migrated from Mexico, Ever said it meant the world to him.
"They're the ones that really wanted it for me. Like I said, I did it for them and I feel really grateful now that I have it because I fought for it, they fought for it real hard, and it just means the world to me," he said.
The high school shared the news in a statement earlier Monday.
"The graduate picked up his diploma at Asheboro High School on Monday, June 7 following a press conference coordinated by Siembra NC," the statement read. "As with all graduates, we wish him well and we will continue to serve our community in ways that help all young people meet their full potential."
Asheboro police said the school district was receiving anonymous threats Friday after the incident, according to the local affiliate WXII12. Ever's family said they do not condone people making threats to the school or any form of violence, and asked people to show their support in a "nonviolent" way.
In the viral video, Ever was seen initially taking off the flag but kept it on after audience members encouraged him to do so, according to his cousin, Adolfo Hurtado, who was filming. The ceremony was also livestreamed on Asheboro City Schools' Facebook account.
People who attended the ceremony and watched the videos accused the school leaders of racism. But Asheboro City Schools said in a statement that the incident had been "misrepresented" across social media and that Ever had violated the dress code, which does not allow flags to be worn.
The statement stressed the incident was "not about the Mexican flag."
Witnesses told local media that other students had decorated their caps and gowns but weren't reprimanded. A Change.org petition demanding Ever be given his diploma had received more than 102,000 signatures Monday.