For high school valedictorians across the country, the opportunity to deliver a speech to the rest of their graduating class is a moment they’ll likely never forget. However, for Rooha Haghar, the valedictorian of Emmett J. Conrad High School in Dallas, her big moment was cut short when her principal cut the mic as she mentioned young Black men who have lost their lives to police brutality and racially charged violence.
In a video posted by Haghar, the senior’s microphone suddenly goes silent after she says the line, "To Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and all the other children who became victims of injustice,” at her graduation last Saturday.
On Twitter, Haghar said her principal, Temesghen Asmerom, made a hand signal for the mic to be cut out and he later “played it off as a technical difficulty.”
In the video, Asmerom can be seen giving a thumbs up seconds before the speech is cut off.
According to Haghar’s post, Asmerom previously removed the names of Trayvon, Tamir, and other Black shooting victims from her speech, because he feared “it would be sending the wrong message to graduating students.”
However, Haghar, who emigrated from Iran to the U.S. with her family because of religious persecution, said it was important for her to give a voice to those whose lives were cut short due to racial persecution.
"I never expected to be silenced. The consequences I was expecting to face was them holding my diploma or having a conversation with my principal," Haghar told KXAS-TV. "I never expected them to not allow me to finish, because at the end of the day, schools want to raise socially conscious students, students who are able to think for themselves. That's what I was doing."
In a statement to KXAS, the Dallas Independent School District said the district educates "leaders of tomorrow and encourage[s] student voices, and we are looking into this matter."
Haghar, who plans on attending the University of Texas in the fall, said she has no regrets about delivering her speech.
She also admitted police brutality isn’t necessarily her “narrative,” and she highlighted several activists and Black Lives Matter leaders who deserve as much attention as she is receiving.
(Photo: Jupiterimages/Getty Images)