The senior at Christ the King High School gained national attention when school officials wouldn’t allow him to print “Malcolm X” on his senior sweatshirt.
Instead, the vice principal advised the civil rights leader was someone Combs “didn’t want to associate with.”
“It surprised me when I first heard it,” Combs said. “Something said like that now, you just don’t think it’s going to be said.”
National activists and local elected officials have rallied to his cause. Despite the school holding its ground, Combs is not giving up his fight to use his name.
“I have a lot of encouraging and supportive friends and family,” Combs said. “Having that on my side is a real plus.”
The Bayside resident was described as a straight-A student. According to Combs’s mother, he is taking three Advanced Placement classes and is on the honor roll.
He’s also college-bound. Combs said he plans to attend Oakwood University in Alabama and study video game design.
“I play a lot of video games,” he said. “If I’m going to play them, I might as well learn how to make them.”
Though his last month has been “hectic,” Combs said it’s been nice to see people really care and support him.
“It’s stressing at times, but I feel it’s worth it for the cause,” he said. “You always have to stand up for what you believe in.”
The 17-year-old said African American history is barely taught at school. It sometimes feels like they treat the subject as a “little factoid on the side under a picture.”
“This wouldn’t have happened if there was more cultural training in the school,” Combs said. “I think that would really benefit them.”