A New York mayor gave a student who was the first black valedictorian at his high school a platform to speak after the student said his principal refused to let him speak at his graduation.
Lovely Warren, the mayor of Rochester, allowed student Jaisaan Lovett, who also works as an intern in her office, to deliver his valedictorian speech at City Hall. Warren's office posted a video of Lovett's speech on her Facebook page Monday.
Lovett, who graduated from Rochester's University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men last month, had initially planned to give a speech at the ceremony, as other valedictorians had done in the past, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.
But Lovett, who said he had a few encounters with his principal over student protests, told the outlet that the principal, Joseph Munno, refused to let him deliver the speech.
"Unfortunately, Jaisaan's school did not allow him to give his valedictorian speech," Warren says in the clip on her public Facebook page. "For some reason, his school — in a country where freedom of speech is a constitutional right, in the city of Frederick Douglass — turned his moment of triumph into a time of sorrow and pain.
"Jaisaan will never graduate from high school again. He will never get that moment back. This is not the time to punish a child because you may not like what he has to say."
In the video, Lovett delivered a message to his former principal.
"I'm here as the UPrep 2018 valedictorian to tell you that you couldn't break me. I'm still here, and I'm still here strong. And after all these years, all this anger I've had toward you and UPrep as a whole, I realized I had to let that go in order to better myself,” Lovett said in the video.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the school's Board of Trustees released a statement on the incident, saying that the school will be "reviewing the circumstances regarding what happened and looking into the related guidelines and school policies.”
The school also congratulated Lovett on his achievement and wished him "much success as he continues his education at Clark Atlanta University."