Mayor Intervenes After First Black Valedictorian at Rochester School Is Prevented From Delivering Speech

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Jaisaan Lovett made history at University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester, New York and was thrilled to give his speech on graduation day. However, that excitement was short lived once his principal Joseph Munno refused to grant the young man’s permission to deliver.

“He didn’t want to see the speech or what it said, nothing,” Lovett told  The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “He just said no.”

However, not all hope was lost after city hall stepped in. Mayor Lovely Warren caught wind of the news and allowed for Lovett to give his speech.

“Unfortunately Jaisaan’s school did not allow him to give his valedictorian speech,” Mayor Warren said in a YouTube recording. “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.”

Lovett sent a message to his high school saying that, “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.” The Black valedictorian also thanked his parents for their support and encouraged others to excel in school.

The video of the graduate’s speech has received thousands of views and multiple people have congratulated the young man on his accomplishments and success.

Munno’s reasons for forbidding Lovett’s speech are unclear, but the UPrep Board of Trustees released a statement on their Facebook page and wrote, “We are aware of the concern with the Valedictorian not speaking at graduation. The Board will be reviewing the circumstances regarding what happened and looking into the related guidelines and school policies,” the message read. “UPrep wishes Jaisaan Lovett, the first Black Valedictorian in the school’s four-year graduation history, much success as he continues his education.”

Lovett is an intern at the Mayor Warren’s office. He will be attending Clark Atlanta University and has received a full scholarship from the college.

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