Censorship in a free society tends to backfire with surprising consistency. Take Jaisaan Lovett, 2018’s valedictorian of University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men in Rochester, New York, who maybe wouldn’t have been a viral sensation if his school’s principal hadn’t tried to squelch his graduation speech.
The first black valedictorian of his school, Jaisaan penned an emotional thank you to his friends and family alongside a surprisingly mature public callout on how that principal treated him during his school career. But Principal Joseph Munno, whom we imagine to be exactly like Dean Wormer from Animal House, reportedly harbors a troubling amount of personal animosity towards Jaisaan and refused to let the valedictorian speak at graduation.
Luckily, the Mayor of Rochester heard what was happening to Jaisaan, who happened to be one of her interns, and was like, “Nope”.
“Unfortunately, Jaisaan’s school did not allow him to give his valedictorian speech,” Warren said in the video, which was published on the city’s official YouTube channel. “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.
“Jaisaan will never graduate from high school again. 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.”
And what was it that Jaisaan had to say that so scorched the ears of Principal Munno?
VIDEO: Jaisaan Lovett graduated from University Preparatory Charter School as the first black valedictorian. The principal barred him from giving a speech because of their "numerous run-ins." So, the city's mayor broadcast his speech over her official YouTube page pic.twitter.com/YJAWAHO0ih
— azcentral (@azcentral) July 4, 2018
“To Mr. Munno, my principal, there’s a whole lot of things I’ve wanted to say to you for a long time. … 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.”
Pretty mature stuff for an 18-year-old. Jaisaan apparently had a number of ‘run-ins’ with the principal over the six years of his attendance, like the time he led a five-day student strike when the principal refused to order necessary safety equipment in their lab.
“There’s a lot of wrong things that go on at that school, and when I notice it I speak out against it,” he told USA Today. “(Munno) is a guy that doesn’t like to be told ‘no.'” So without even reading what the speech was going to say, Munno withheld the invitation to speak — and then denied it when Jaisaan, upon earning valedictorian status, directly asked him.
Munno, in true Dean Wormer fashion, refused public comment. But the public had comments of their own:
Through it all, Jaisaan Lovett is an extraordinary young man.
— Kelly Pylman (@littlestduck68) July 4, 2018
Jaisaan Lovett showed why he is Valedictorian. His maturity, fortitude and ability to even move past this shows that this young man is going to be someone who will be successful and an example of real men who climb over obstacles in their life.
— John Moore (@J_Moore_Magic) July 4, 2018
Keep speaking truth to power Jaisaan. https://t.co/kYWWy1w7hE
— Jim Marchetti (@jimmarchetti) July 4, 2018
People praised Jaisaan’s maturity and cast a light on the educator’s immaturity.
This young man just made history and his principal tried 2 silence him? He tried to take this moment away from Jaisaan, and failed! Mr. Joseph Munno it’s time for you to go – a formal apology 2 Jaisaan Lovett AND your resignation are the only 2 things that will make this better! https://t.co/6cA5pFCv29
— Derek Clark (@Clark33Clark) July 4, 2018
Wow…Munro looks like a very sad and unfulfilled older white dude. No offense, but these guys are the glass ceilings to our younger generation's vigor and creativeness. Congrats to Jaisaan Lovet and to much future success for being a strong voice in our world. https://t.co/r6vdzjjnad
— Just•Jake (@4jk0) July 4, 2018
Jaisaan earned a full-ride scholarship at Clark Atlanta University and will attend their computer science program.
H/T: USA Today