Excluded from graduating in 1969, Pike County students finally receive their diplomas

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It was a long time coming – 49 years to be exact – but now a group of Pike County High School students have finally gotten the diplomas they deserve.

On Saturday, a number of students finally had their long-awaited graduation ceremony, after they were excluded from graduating from the high school back in 1969.

At that time, a group of students at Pike County Consolidated High School decided to join the protests and mass marches of the civil rights movement with a boycott over the lack of integration in the area's schools and the nonrenewal of school principal D. F. Glover's contract.

Because of that protest, when the students were moved to Pike County High School officials said that they had too many absences and would not be able to graduate. 

Now, 49 years later, those same students were honored at the Pike County Auditorium. The ceremony also honored classmates who have passed away.

Dressed in white caps and gowns, the graduates sang together and then walked across the stage one by one to receive the piece of paper they've waited for so long to receive.

Milton Clowers, one of the Class of 1969, said that it was "unbelievable."

"It's something that I've waited for and dreamed about for a long long time," he said. "We're one of the most together you'd ever meet. We get together all the time.

The graduates say this moment would not have been possible if it weren't for their educators believing in them standing up for their rights.