Bullying at school led a 9-year-old Alabama girl, McKenzie Adams, to take her own life, and racism played a factor in the hateful taunts, the girl’s heartbroken relatives say.
McKenzie, who is black, rode to school at U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis each day with a white family.
"Some of the student bullies would say to her, ‘Why you riding with white people, you’re black, you’re ugly, you should just die,’" her mother, Jasmine Adams, told WIAT CBS 42.
The girl’s aunt, Eddwina Harris, told Tuscaloosa News much of the bullying was centered around McKenzie’s friendship with a boy.
“She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black b---h,’ ‘just die,’” Harris said.
Jasmine Adams said McKenzie told teachers and her assistant principal numerous times that she was being bullied.
McKenzie’s grandmother discovered her body after she hanged herself on Dec. 3 in their home in Linden.
McKenzie’s school in Demopolis wasn’t the first where she was bullied, Harris said. McKenzie transferred to the school in Demopolis after her mother and grandmother complained to the State Board of Education that she was being bullied at a different school in Linden.
When she transferred schools, the bullying began again, her relatives said.
"She told me that this one particular child was writing her nasty notes in class. It was just things you wouldn't think a 9-year-old should know. And my baby, to tell me some of the things they had said to her, I was like, ‘Where are they learning this from?’" Jasmine Adams told WIAT CBS 42.
McKenzie’s mother feels her daughter and family were let down by the school system.
"I just felt that our trust was in them that they would do the right thing," Adams said, "And it feels like to me it wasn't it wasn't done."
Alex Brasswell, the City Schools attorney, said the case is under investigation.
“Certainly our hearts goes out to the family and friends of Mckenzie and her fellow students as well as her teachers,” Brasswell told WIAT. Demopolis school system has provided grief councilors and crisis councilors at the school since this and ministers and youth ministers have been at the campus since the date of this incident. And we certainly want to extend those services to any students and teachers on our campus as they go through this healing process."
McKenzie — who had an outgoing personality — loved math and science and wanted to be a scientist one day. She loved to travel and visit family members. Some of her favorite places were the beach and the zoo.
McKenzie’s funeral service will be held Saturday at the elementary school.