Student is the first black valedictorian in her school’s history

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by Dr. Boyce Watkins

A high school student in Queens, New York now has the distinction of being her school’s first African American valedictorian.  The story is making national news, even though there are many trailblazers of a similar sort around the nation.  But without regard to the context within which the story is being released, her achievement is nothing short of remarkable.

According to reporter Mona Rivera, Shanelle Davis is a senior at Benjamin Cardozo High School in the Bayside area.

“It’s an incredible honor. It’s still surreal to me,” she said.

Davis says that she found out from school administrators that she was the first African American to receive the award, which seemed to stun her.

“Out of 845 students and mine said number one. And then afterward I was speaking to administration in the school and they’re like ‘you know we’ve never had an African-American (valedictorian) before.’ Then that’s how I found out,” she said.

Davis sees her achievement as an example to other black students that if they give a diligent effort, they too can be standing on the stage as their school’s valedictorian.  The young lady is the first in her family to attend a four-year university, and plans on going to Harvard next fall.

“School is like, it’s very diverse, but it’s predominantly Asian. So most African-Americans in the school think that OK so since there’s been like always an Asian or a white valedictorian that they can’t do it. But then I can be an example for them to show that they can also do it. So maybe next year they’ll have another African-American one,” Davis said.

Davis’ accomplishment is certainly noteworthy, no question about that.  But when I read the story, I was a little surprised that it made national news.  There are black valedictorians all over the country and many of them are the first to do so in their high school.  So, I still can’t quite figure out why this story was told over the countless others that should be shared as well.

READ MORE via Student is the first black valedictorian in her school’s history | The Black Home School.


  1. Barbara

    June 23, 2014 at 9:28 am

    It’s true there are Black valedictorians all over the country; nevertheless, give this young lady her shine. Give shine to all others across the country too. Our young people need to hear more such stories–versus all the negative music lyrics they listen to.

  2. Robert

    June 23, 2014 at 9:50 am

    You are so right amen

  3. Jah Larry Dread

    June 23, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Big up to Ms.Shanelle Davis! Keep thriving young lady! It is so stress relieving to hear some good news for our young black people.

  4. Todd

    June 23, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Proud of you. I hope it sweeps the nation and becomes a norm in our community and schools. The day of dumbing down is OVER.

  5. Jamila

    June 23, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Dr. Boykins you are a part of the very media that is telling this story over countless others. What a great opportunity for you to highlight the other African American valedictorians. It just seems strange for you to not write about the others – not celebrate their accomplishments – and then seem surprised that this youth is being recognized. I look forward to future highlights from you of Black Valedictorians across the country.

  6. Jacqueline

    June 25, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    God bless her and I wish her all the luck in the world.

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