Earlier this month, NCAC wrote a letter in support of Miranda Taylor, a student at Richmond Early College in North Carolina, whose school canceled their yearbook, in part, because of her senior quote: “Build that wall”, attributed to President Donald Trump. The school claimed that because of their discovery of "inappropriate comments", the yearbook would not be distributed this year and copies already released would be taken back. NCAC wrote to the Principal to criticize the decision, underlining that a school has a responsibility to prepare young adults “to exercise the responsibilities of citizenship by promoting democratic values such as free expression, tolerance, and diversity—including diversity of opinion.”
After the letter was sent, Taylor wrote to NCAC to thank us for our support and so we decided to interview her, to hear her perspective on the incident.
Note: Interview edited for length and clarity.
How did you first learn that the yearbooks would be cancelled, and how did you react?
I was at home, and one of my friends texted me that she had heard that the school was taking the yearbook back because of my quote. I was sitting with my mom and told her what my friend told me, and my mom said, “There’s no way, no they didn’t.” And I was shocked and felt like it was a joke.
How do you know that your quote was responsible for the cancellation?
I knew a girl had complained to the principal about my quote. I knew two others, who were against Trump, had also complained. The principal never mentioned [the Trump quote] specifically to me. There was also another quote involved. We had the central office come speak to our school as a whole. They mentioned another student’s quote was “hair bigger than your future” or something. He has an afro. They mentioned that one. They did never mention my quote specifically. However, the majority of students believe the yearbook was pulled because of me.
Why did you select ‘Build the wall’ as your yearbook quote?
I’ve been a big Trump supporter since he started running. This is the first big election I’ve been involved in. I liked a lot of his policies and how outspoken he was. I liked his immigration policy.
Have there been any other cases of censorship at your school regarding political expression?
Students were once called into the central office, where we were told that we were not allowed to wear political apparel that might offend someone from then on. There had been one guy who had worn a Trump shirt to support his candidacy. He had worn it all year long. The office called his home to have someone bring a different shirt for him to wear.
What would you like to see your school do to make sure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again?
I think with this whole situation, it’s important for the school to know that some other people have different mindsets. And that’s okay if it’s not what they personally like. I would like to see the school take steps to realize that people have different opinions and different views and have the right to support who they want to.
You mentioned in local newspapers that you stand by your quote. Why is this important?
Because I do have the right, under the First Amendment, to support who I want to. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been involved in politics for the past three years and have been a big supporter of Trump. Several of my friends knew I was going to put in a yearbook quote about Trump or about America, because those are things I feel strongly about, and I should be able to express what political opinions I want to.