After a social media campaign and a rally on campus, students at an Orange County high school will get to see one of the most popular rappers, Macklemore, perform on school grounds in December as part of a prize that almost didn't happen.
Students at Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo were ecstatic to find out they'd won the Chegg Music 101 contest with the celebrity appearance, but then some parents' protests over the content of the musician's work briefly killed the idea when the principal called it off.
But students took to Twitter with the hashtag #bringbackmack, protested on campus and garnered more than 8,000 signatures on an online petition as of Tuesday afternoon. Fans cited Macklemore's support of the equal rights movement and the LGBT community.
"His music had progressed over the years so I don't think we should be looking at past things he's done," said Madison Brown, a student at the school, more than 50 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. "It's what he has become now."
Deni Christensen, the school's principal, said the after school show will go on Dec. 17. Students will need parent permission to attend. Christensen said she initially turned down the prizes after parents' concerns over Macklemore's lyrics, saying they promote drugs and misogyny.
"It is my hope that we have developed a plan that will meet the needs of our diverse students," she said in a prepared statement. "In recognition of our students' efforts in winning this contest, and a desire to provide students the option of hearing a presentation regarding the music industry, the importance of music education and the arts, along with a Q&A session with the two artists, we will be holding this event after school hours in December."
As part of the prize, the school will receive a $10,000 grant for the music department.
"I think people really don't understand what he really stands up for," said student Keaton Draper. "He actually does a lot of good in this world for us."
Christie Draper, a parent, backs the students.
"We're supposed to be teaching our kids to think, to take action, to not just stand by and let society dictate to them their values," she said.
Quinn Darling, Aliso Niguel student body vice president, said he worked hours with administration to try to get the concert reinstated. He took to Instagram on Monday to protest and urged fellow students to speak up and spread the word.
Macklemore noticed the campaign and retweeted a screenshot of Darling's Instagram caption Monday to his millions of followers: "That's disappointing," he tweeted.
Chegg, the online tutoring and textbook rental website that ran the contest, also tweeted its support: "Chegg stands with the students of Aliso Niguel. #bringbackmack"
"Even as the younger generation, even as high school students, we still can have a say," Darling said. "We still can make a difference, and we deserve to have our voices heard."
This post has been updated from its original version to correctly identify Christie Draper and to correct the amount of the grant to the school.