After Jaissaan Lovett graduated from the University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester, New York as valedictorian, he knew he was going to be granted the opportunity to deliver a graduation speech at the school’s commencement ceremony as it was standard practice.
Being the first black valedictorian to come out of that school, the opportunity to step onto the podium to thank family and friends who helped him reach this significant milestone as well as give some words of advice was priceless. However, the invitation to give the speech never came. When he approached the school principal Joseph Munno to allow him to give the speech (as it was standard practice and previous valedictorians had done so), he refused.
“He didn’t want to see the speech or what it said, nothing,” Lovett told The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in an interview. “He just said no.” He also added he believed the refusal could have been as a result of previous disagreements with Munno over student protests.
When the Mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren got wind of the situation, she granted Lovett, who works in her office as an intern the golden opportunity to deliver his graduation speech at a better place, the City Hall.
In the video posted on YouTube, the Mayor registered her disappointment at the way Lovett was treated.
″Unfortunately Jaisaan’s school did not allow him to give his valedictorian speech,” she said. “For some reason, his school, in a country where freedom of speech is a constitutional right, and 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.” Warren added before allowing Lovett to deliver his speech.
Take a look at the video and listen to what Lovett had to tell the school principal.
The school’s board of trustees subsequently released a statement via Facebook saying they were going to be “reviewing the circumstances regarding what happened and looking into the related guidelines and school policies.”