When Jaissaan Lovett graduated from high school last month as the first black valedictorian of his high school, he prepared a speech – but he says his director would not let him. So someone came in to hear what he had to say: the mayor of Rochester, New York, Lovely Warren. Not only that, she gave him a much wider audience for his message.
Lovett, a recent graduate of the Preparatory Charter School for Young Men of Rochester's University, planned to encourage his classmates and thank his parents, siblings and teachers the newspaper Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. He also confirmed some earlier run-ins with the headmaster about student protests.
Lovett said he was never asked to give a closing speech, though past Valedictorians have come to it, according to the newspaper. When asked if he even wanted to speak, he said the director, Joseph Munno, said no (1
Mayor Warren invited Lovett, who works as an intern in her office, to deliver the speech at City Hall. She posted it then on her YouTube channel and her Facebook page.
"Sadly, Jaisaan's school did not allow him to say farewell," Warren said in the video. "For some reason, in a country where freedom of expression is a proper constitution, and the city of Frederick Douglass, his school has transformed his moment of triumph into a time of sorrow and pain."
"Jaisaan will never go back to school, 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."
Lovett had also a message for his headmaster.
"I'm here to tell the UPrep 2018 farewell letter that you could not break me, I'm still here, and I'm still strong here," Lovett said in the video. "And after all In the years, all the rage that I had shown you and UPrep as a whole, I realized that I had to allow that go there to improve myself. "
The school's board of trustees responded to the controversy on a Facebook Contribution, saying they were aware of the worries and would "check the circumstances surrounding the event". They wish Lovett "much success as he continues his education at Clark Atlanta University, where he will receive full scholarship after the Democrat and Chronicle."
UPrep, a purely male school serving grades 7-12, is one of the best-regarded charter schools in Rochester, according to Democrat and Chronicle, with well over 90 percent annual graduation rates.
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