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This Valedictorian's Mic Was Cut Off Just As She Mentioned Trayvon Martin And Tamir Rice

Rooha Hagher tweeted that a teacher told her the speech would incite anger toward white people.

Posted on June 6, 2019, at 3:06 p.m. ET

Rooha Haghar/Twitter / Via Twitter: @ItsRoohaHaghar

The valedictorian at a Dallas high school graduation said the principal cut off her microphone midspeech as she mentioned the names of unarmed black boys who were fatally shot.

In a video that's now gone viral on Twitter, Rooha Hagher can be seen giving her speech at Emmett J. Conrad High School's graduation ceremony.

"To Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and all the other children who became victims of injustice," she says into the microphone. Behind her, Principal Temesghen Asmerom can be seen motioning with his hands.

Then Hagher's mic goes silent.

my valedictorian speech was cut short because i said the names of black children who had become victims of police brutality. our principal signaled for my mic to be turned off as soon as i said “trayvon martin and tamir rice” and played it off as a technical difficulty. pathetic.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Hagher said a teacher told her to cut the mention of Martin and Rice.

Martin was 17 years old when he was fatally shot in Florida in 2012, and Rice was 12 years old when he was fatally shot in 2014 by a police officer at a park in Cleveland. Both boys were unarmed when they were shot. Their deaths, in addition to several other fatal shootings of black men, ignited the Black Lives Matter movement, which sparked massive protests nationwide.

"When I first read my speech to my teacher a week ago, I was told mentioning those names will incite anger towards white people, a group which according to him experience high levels of discrimination in America," Hagher wrote in a statement on Twitter.

"He advised me to take that line out completely. I didn't," her statement says.

some more context and background information. i really think my principal did this out of ignorance, and we all have room for growth. i never meant to create more divisiveness, but i also feel like certain conversations need to be had

She said she was also told by the principal before the graduation ceremony to remove the lines because they did not fall within valedictorian speech guidelines. He encouraged her to tone down the passage so as not to single out black victims, she said.

"The day of graduation, I had a choice to make. Do I read the censored speech in the binder or speak the words I had originally written?" she wrote.

She chose to stick to her original plan.

"I knew the risk I was taking but never expected to be silenced," she wrote.

She shared that full section of her speech on Twitter.

since this is getting more attention than i expected, here’s that section of my speech (for context)

A spokesperson for the Dallas Independent School District told BuzzFeed News, "We educate leaders of tomorrow and encourage student voices, and we are looking into this matter.”

Hagher and Asmerom, the principal, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, people are praising Hagher for her refusal to be censored.

@ItsRoohaHaghar Look at you teaching your principal what a leader actually means! May you continue to soar as high as you decide to.

And they've also noted that her getting cut off has given her speech a much bigger audience.

@ItsRoohaHaghar @Laika_Onyx7 They turned off your mic but gave you a whole new audience ! I read the excerpt from your speech and I’m deeply moved. You’ll do great things ! I’m sure of it ❤️ 👏❤️👏


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