DETROIT - As the country focuses on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case that ended government-imposed segregation in public schools, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today announced the settlement of a complaint filed on behalf of an African American student who was the victim of racial harassment and attacked by white students in a so-called "game of KKK."
Kyron Tryon was an eighth-grader at Bullock Creek Middle School near Midland, Michigan in May 2003 when seven white boys grabbed him during recess on the school playground. According to Kyron, the boys picked him up off the ground and chanted "KKK" while one of them whipped him with a belt. The boys then threw Kyron on the ground and began kicking him. The attack did not stop until the bell rang, signaling the end of recess. When the white students were questioned about the incident, they described it as just a "game of KKK."
Kyron and his older siblings were victimized by racial harassment several times at school, the ACLU said. Prior to the playground incident, Kyron, the only African American in his grade, was told by his white peers to "go back to Africa;" they called him a "porch monkey" and threatened him because he is black.
Over the past year, the school district, the ACLU and the Tryons met with an MDCR mediator and jointly developed a plan to address what the Tryons believed to be a hostile environment for students of color at the Bullock Creek Schools.
Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan, said she hoped that other school districts will emulate what Bullock Creek is doing to respond to discrimination on campus. "As we look back at the history of desegregation, Kyron's experience illustrates how far we still have to go in combating racism."
"I just want the nightmare to be over and to go back to being a teenager," said Kyron. "If what I experienced somehow ends up helping someone else, I will be happy."
"Michigan School District Takes Action to Stop Racism After Black Student Is Attacked in 'KKK Game.'" ACLU: American Civil Liberties Union. 19 May 2004. ACLU. 25 April 2008