After Darius Ivory moved to Livingston, Montana, he befriended a racist classmate at his high school. Ivory is the only Black student at Park High School and is unbothered by the anti-Black actions he has encountered.
According to the Billings Gazette, when the 19-year-old moved from Houston and enrolled at Park High, a rumor began to spread about another student threatening him.
Fellow pupil Alexis Bowman said she heard a white classmate threatened to hang Ivory from his truck and drag him behind it. School administrators learned about the plans and Vice Principal Tim Gauthier contacted the 17-year-old white student. The student denied threatening Ivory but did admit to making negative statements about him.
“He comes out and said he doesn’t like black people and is racist,” Gauthier said to the newspaper. “In my 20 years as an educator, I’d never heard someone admit they were racist.”
The student told the principal that his racism is based on bad experiences he had with Black people in Missouri.
Yet Ivory is not intimidated. Even after the white student ignored admonishment from school officials and displayed a Confederate flag on his pickup truck two weeks later, the Black teen identified with the student.
He says he had a Confederate flag on his cell phone for a while and saw the emblem all around Houston growing up. He says the image stands more for southern pride than racism.
“I don’t see anything racist about it,” Ivory told the paper.
Outbursts later occurred at the school in reaction to the 17-year-old’s flag being burned and the emblem being banned as a result. Pupils protested by parking their cars off campus, and the student who had the image on his truck was suspended.
When the principal informed Ivory about the Confederate flag display and the threat, Gauthier said the Black teen seemed surprised.
“He asked to meet with the boy who had made the comments,” Gauthier said. “They ended up talking for over an hour. It was interesting. I mean the student didn’t pull any punches; he was clear about what he thought.”
Ivory said he learned about the white student’s background and understood where he was coming from. He has since continued to spend time with the classmate, who later dropped out of Park High following his suspension. But the classmate returned May 2 and Ivory was fine with that.
“We’ve hung out a couple times,” Ivory told the Gazette. “He is a cool kid. I like him.”