NASHVILLE — A student is suing her suburban Nashville school district for the right to wear a T-shirt with the words "Free the Jena Six," a reference to the black students in a Louisiana town accused of beating a white classmate.
According to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Nashville last week, Danielle Super came in to school late on Sept. 20 after having attended a march.
As she was waiting for her mother to sign her in, Smyrna High School assistant principal Jolene Watson told her she could not come into the school wearing the Jena Six T-shirt because it could "cause a problem."
After protesting the order, Super went home, changed shirts and returned to school, the complaint states.
Super is seeking an injunction against the school that would allow her to wear the T-shirt. The complaint also asks for damages, although it does not specify an amount.
Rutherford County Schools spokesman James Evans said the only comment he was authorized to make on the pending litigation was that "we don't believe the school is in the wrong, and we are confident this will play out in our favor."
The T-shirt refers to six black students in Jena, La., accused of beating a white student unconscious in December. The attack followed months of racial tensions after three white students were suspended, but not prosecuted, for hanging nooses from a tree on school grounds.
The case has garnered national attention and drawn protests from thousands, including civil rights activists such as Jesse Jackson. David Bowie donated to the teens' defense fund, and rocker John Mellencamp has written a song about the incident.