His Principal Wouldn't Let Him Give A Valedictorian Speech. So The Mayor Did.

Jaisaan Lovett was the first black valedictorian in his school's history.

Jaisaan Lovett was the first black valedictorian in his school's history, but unlike the valedictorian students before him, he didn't get to give a graduation speech.

Lovett, who graduated from University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men, says he wasn't allowed to speak because of a personal dispute between him and the principal, Joseph Munno. When Lovett's speech was rejected for graduation, he ended up finding a larger platform: the mayor's.

"Unfortunately, Jaisaan's school did not allow him to give his valedictorian speech," Mayor Lovely Warren says in a video on her official YouTube page which has now been viewed over 100,000 times. "For some reason, his school—in a country where freedom of speech is a constitution right, and the city of Frederick Douglass—turned his moment of triumph into a time of sorrow and pain."

Lovett says that his speech was rejected before anyone at the school even read it, and that he had hoped to thank his parents, siblings, teachers and even Principal Munno in his address. Instead, though, Warren's office — where Lovett was interning, per local news station WCNC — helped give him a larger forum for his valedictorian speech. 

"To Mr. Munno, my principal, there's a whole lot of things I've wanted to say to you for a long time," Jaisaan said in his address. "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. And I forgive you for everything I held against you."

UPrep is an all-boys school in Rochester, New York, with graduation rates above 90 percent — placing it among the best in the city. Lovett told WCNC that he and Munno had their differences over the years, and at one point Lovett led a five-day student strike because the school wouldn't order safety equipment for a lab. 

Previously, Munno had a reputation for sticking up for students and even won the "Golden Apple Award" from a local news channel in Rochester for "being a great educator." Warren reached out to Munno, but said he "never called me back" in a Facebook post. 

"Jaisaan will never graduate from high school again," Warren said in the video. "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."

Per WCNC, Lovett received a full scholarship to Clark Atlanta University in Georgia and plans to study video game design. 

(H/T: The Root)


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.