A valedictorian wanted to recognise black victims of violence during her speech — but says her school turned her mic off mid-tribute

Rooha Haghar, just before she was cut off. ItsRoohaHaghar/Twitter
  • A Texas valedictorian says that her school cut off her microphone during her graduation speech when she began to speak about the black victims of police brutality.
  • Rooha Haghar, 19, said on Twitter that her speech was preemptively ended when she mentioned Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin.
  • A clip of the moment has gone viral.
  • Haghar explained that in an earlier meeting with her school’s principal she was told not to mention victims of police brutality in her speech because doing so would “not fall within the Dallas Independent School District valedictorian speech guidelines.”
  • But on Saturday she chose to reaad her original speech.
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A Texas valedictorian says that her school cut off her microphone during her graduation speech when she began to speak about the black victims of violence including Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin.

Rooha Haghar, 19, is the valedictorian at Emmett J. Conrad High School in Dallas, Texas, this year. As NBC 5 reported, she is passionate about social justice and activism.

But when she first met with her school’s principal, Temesghen Asmerom, to go over the draft, he told her mentions of police brutality were “too political” and did not “not fall within the Dallas Independent School District (ISD) valedictorian speech guidelines,” she explained on Twitter. Haghar said that she did not have access to those guidelines.

When her graduation day came on Saturday, Haghar chose to read her original speech – not the “censored” version, as she called it.

She shared a video of the moment on Twitter in a clip that has since gone viral.

“To the kids who were murdered in senseless mass school shootings,” she says at the video’s start, “To Trayvon Martin to Tamir Rice and all the other children who became victims of injustice.”

And that’s when her microphone cuts out. In the video, Asmerom, the principal, appears to signal a thumbs up to someone off camera just before the sound was cut off. According to the Washington Post, Asmerom said the incident was a “technical difficulty.”


But Haghar, who immigrated from Iran when she was 12 to flee religious persecution for her family’s Baha’i faith, thinks her speech was curtailed on purpose.

“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 NBC 5. “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.”

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Still, she told the Washington Post that she was surprised.

“I was like, ‘Wow, they really did this. They really went there,'” she told The Washington Post.

The Dallas ISD told NBC 5 that it is looking into the incident.

“In Dallas ISD, we educate leaders of tomorrow and encourage student voices, and we are looking into this matter,” the district said in a statement.

On Twitter, the teen is using her platform to share what the full portion of her speech would have looked like – and to elevate activists’ voices.



As for Saturday’s viral moment? Haghar says she’d do it all over again. “I don’t have any regrets,” Haghar told NBC 5. “And if it took me not being able to finish my speech, then so be it.”

She’s not the only student to have this experience. Last year, Lulabel Seitz, a high school valedictorian in California, said that her graduation speech was cut short when she attempted to address her alleged sexual assault.