A Dallas, Texas, high school valedictorian finally got the chance to deliver the entirety of her speech to graduating seniors after being censored by her school.
Thanks to Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain teen Trayvon Martin, Emmett J. Conrad High School senior Rooha Haghar can now honor the victims of police-involved shootings.
The 17-year-old published a tweet June 3 revealing her high school principal cut her mic off when she mentioned Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice. According to NBC News, she shared a copy of her speech with Principal Temesghen Asmerom before graduation. He reportedly told her not to mention the victims' names, claiming the idea would be too political.
Trayvon was 17 years old when he lost his life to neighborhood watchmen George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Tamir was only 12 when Cleveland, Ohio, police gunned him down in a park because a person suggested his toy gun may have been real. The child was killed in 2014.
"My valedictorian speech was cut short because I said the names of Black children who had become victims of police brutality," Rooha wrote in the tweet. "Our principal signaled for my mic to be turned off as soon as I said 'Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice' and played it off as a technical difficulty. Pathetic."
The tweet spread like wildfire. Nearly 35,000 people retweeted the post which eventually grabbed the attention of Fulton. After losing her son in 2012, the saddened mother turned her pain into anti-gun violence and anti-police brutality activism. On June 7, Fulton announced on Instagram that Rooha's speech can now be heard in its entirety for all.
"Now, the world can hear your SPEECH! Thank you @rooha_haghar for speaking your truth," Fulton wrote on Instagram. "We honor you! Continue to be a shining star of your generation!"
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Now the world can hear your SPEECH! Thank you @rooha_haghar for speaking your truth. We honor you! Continue to be a shinning star of your generation! To view the full video visit Trayvonmartinfoundation.org. #wearetrayvonmartin #roohahaghar #neverforget #wearethechange #ourfuture #emmetjconradhighschool #dallastx #valedictorianspeech
A tiny snippet was posted on Instagram with a caption directing others to head over to the Trayvon Martin Foundation website.
Rooha immigrated from Iran to the United States at the age of 12. The graduating senior told local news outlet KXAS in Fort Worth that she wanted to speak on police-involved shootings because she knew police shootings were a reality for Black families.
NBC News reports the Dallas Independent School District released a statement following the backlash: "In Dallas ISD, we educate leaders of tomorrow and encourage student voices, and we are looking into this matter.”
Rooha insisted she was doing just that with her speech.
"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," she said.
Now, tens of thousands know how she feels thanks to the principal's actions.