Principal Forbids Speech From First Black Valedictorian — So, Mayor Does A Wonderful Thing

Posted On : 07/04/2018

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK — This principal thought he was stopping powerful words from one of our Black kings. But, City Hall said “Got’em!” and gave a much larger platform for the student’s speech.

According to USA Today, Jaisaan Lovett recently graduated from University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men (UPrep) as the valedictorian. While standing at the top of his class, Lovett also obtained a full scholarship to Clark-Atlanta University, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reportedly, the young man is the charter school’s first, Black valedictorian and — with this in mind — the student had some things to get off his chest via the platform.

In particular, a direct message was intended for Principal Joseph Munno. The source notes the student’s address as follows.

“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.”

According to Lovett, he’d had numerous run-ins with Munno over his six years at UPrep, as notes Democrat & Chronicle.

NOTE: “UPrep, an all-male school serving grades 7-12, is one of Rochester’s best regarded charter schools, with annual graduation rates well above 90 percent” — as reports USA Today.

One particular instance happened last year. The source says Lovett led a five-day student strike after the school allegedly wouldn’t order needed safety equipment for a lab.

“There’s a lot of wrong things that go on at that school, and when I notice it I speak out against it,” Lovett mentions. “[Munno] is a guy that doesn’t like to be told ‘no’.”

Subsequently, Lovett states he was never asked to deliver a valedictorian speech — as those before him were allowed to do. When he requested permission to speak anyway, he said Munno denied him.

“He didn’t want to see the speech or what it said, nothing. He just said no.”


According to the source, the valedictorian’s comments might have gone unnoticed if he’d delivered it as planned, during the small graduation ceremony.

However, the principal is now under question with the city after officials heard the student’s past plights with Munno.

Fortunately, Lovett’s powerful friend — Mayor Lovely Warren — stepped in to help the teen get his message heard by the masses rather than the few at school.

Warren invited the student to City Hall to deliver his speech. It’s important to note that Lovett works for Warren as an intern.

Following the student’s speech, City Hall posted it on the city’s official YouTube channel.

Serious burn…

For the principal, Warren offers these words:

“Unfortunately, Jaisaan’s school did not allow him to give his valedictorian speech. 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.”


Once the situation went city-wide, Munno didn’t respond to requests for comment and neither has he responded via social media.

However, according to Democrat & Chronicle, the school mentioned its Board of Trustees being aware of the situation.

“The Board will be reviewing the circumstances regarding what happened and looking into the related guidelines and school policies. For confidentiality reasons, the school isn’t able to speak about the specifics of this situation. UPrep wishes Jaision [sic] Lovett, the first black Valedictorian in the school’s…graduation history, much success as he continues his education at Clark Atlanta University.”

NOTE: As you could see, the school didn’t even spell his name correctly. Wow.

According to Mayor Warren, in a follow-up Facebook comment, she noted:

“He nor his parents were ever given a reason (why he wasn’t allowed to give the speech). I called the principal but to my knowledge he never called me back. He and Jaisaan didn’t have a great relationship and it was his last chance to show him who was boss. He worked hard for this opportunity and his mom and dad were in tears that there was nothing that they could do from the audience. They weren’t going to ruin it for everyone else.”

Overall, the source reports that Lovett is essentially joining his brother, LaJason, in Atlanta. LaJason was salutatorian at UPrep last year and received a full ride to Morehouse College.

If you’re interested in Jaisaan Lovett’s entire City Hall speech, check the video below.

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[Featured Photo via The People’s Champ / Twitter]

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