Brenda Cherry gives an update on ShaQuanda Cotton and life in Paris, Texas

In March, the internet was ablaze with comments and opinions regarding the story of 14 year-old ShaQuanda Cotton. ShaQuanda was sentenced to a Texas Youth Commission facility after an incident involving she and a teacher’s aide in Paris, Texas – which happens to be my hometown.

A little over two-weeks later after a Chicago Tribune article brought nationwide attention to the situation, ShaQuanda was released from TYC back to her mother. Brenda Cherry, who leads the Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality in Paris, was with ShaQuanda and her mother Creola Cotton during the legal proceedings as well as subsequent protests and petitions for ShaQuanda’s freedom.

I will post a two (or three) part interview over the next few days that Ms. Cherry gave to Dallas South regarding ShaQuanda and how things are going in Paris.

Dallas South Blog: Ms. Cherry, how is ShaQuanda doing after all that she has gone through over the last few months.

Brenda Cherry: ShaQuanda has been doing OK considering all she went through and is going through right now. People keep spreading rumors about her and the Paris News keeps publishing nasty articles about her and her mother. The District Attorney Gary Young and Allan Hubbard placed untrue things about her on the Lamar County DA website and Hubbard’s own personal site. Young removed his so-so-called facts after it was proven he lied but the last time I checked, Hubbard still has his opinions about her on his site at

There was a rumor that she beat up her mother and broke her arms and there was a rumor that she is back in jail and beat up two police officers. ShaQuanda is blamed for the bad publicity in Paris, Texas. However, I hope this will make her stronger rather than destroy her.

DSB: Has ShaQuanda returned back to school?

BC: No. She will not be returning to PISD (Paris Independent School District). She is currently being home schooled and she plans to attend college.

DSB: In your comments on Dallas South, you stated “The ShaQuanda Cotton story is about attacking a mother and an organization for filing civil rights complaints.” What types of civil rights complaints were filed?

BC: During ShaQuanda’s trial, the main focus was on her mother filing complaints. The first civil rights complaint that we filed was regarding our observation that black students were punished at a higher rate than white students at PISD. The Board of Education did an investigation and in fact found that in subjective areas such as “disruptive” and “disrespectful”, black students were punished at eight times the rate of “white and other” students. However, they said that didn’t prove racism.

We filed a complaint when white students, including the son of the now president of the school board was passing around a racist joke, “How are black people like apples…answer: they both look good hanging from a tree”, and yet got no punishment when it almost started a riot but black kids were punished for displaying anger(verbal).

We filed a complaint when a white teacher told a student he was “too black” for her to be able to see him. We filed a complaint when an 11 year-old boy was thrown down on the playground and kicked in the groin and ribs by the principal. We filed a complaint because students were punished by the principal at the PISD Alternative school if they chose not to say the Pledge of Allegiance. The principal said it was un-American to not want to say it. That goes against the students Constitutional rights.

We complained when certain students at the alternative school, some as young as eight, were not provided bus rides home and were forced to walk no matter how far away they lived if parents had no transportation and after one child was ran over trying to cross the street and on another occasion, a child was found lying unconscious. We filed a complaint when two teachers were found to have called black children stupid and lazy. We filed a complaint regarding the fact that the black students in OSC (on campus suspension) were not provided their schoolwork or homework.

Those given ten days at a time were missing 10 days of schoolwork. We believe that to be one of the reasons why according to Texas Education Report for PISD, in critical areas such as mathmatics only 28% of black students are prepared for college upon graduation as compared to 71% of white students. I will continue to complain until the issue is properly addressed. Freedom or death until my last breath.

DSB: Has ShaQuanda’s case been resolved at this point?

BC: No. Her case is on appeal and will be taken to the Supreme Court if necessary.


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