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Valedictorian: Mic Cut During Speech About Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice

Rooha Haghar plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and continue her work as an advocate for social justice

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    Valedictorian Says School Cut Off Mic During Speech

    A North Texas valedictorian's speech has gone viral after she says the school cut off her microphone during it. (Published Wednesday, June 5, 2019)

    Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a new response from the Dallas Independent School District. Click here to read more about their apology.

    A Texas teenager’s high school graduation speech has gone viral after she says the school cut off her mic.

    Rooha Haghar, the valedictorian at Emmett J. Conrad High School in Dallas, says the school silenced her because of her message.

    The teen is heavily involved in fighting against social injustice, and as she began writing her speech, she said the names of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown continued to resurface on paper.

    All of these young men's deaths sparked protests across the country.

    "It made me feel sick, honestly, because I was close to their age and knowing this is a reality that black families have to deal with," she said.

    Before the graduation, Haghar said her school principal deleted the names from her speech because he didn't want it to become political. 

    "We forget names and move on within a few weeks," said Haghar.

    But she felt the names should remain and that's when *it* happened.

    Haghar said her microphone was muted during her speech and she was instantly silenced. 

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    "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," said Haghar. "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."

    Despite a brief moment of embarrassment during one of the most important speeches of her life, she said she isn’t mad at her principal or the school.

    "I don't have any regrets," Haghar said. "And if it took me not being able to finish my speech, then so be it."

    Rooha Haghar never dreamed that she would speak before her graduating class as valedictorian.

    She and her family immigrated from Iran when she was just 12-years-old, after facing religious persecution.

    "I couldn't play my violin for celebrations," Haghar said. "My brother was told to not touch students in Iran because Baha'i's are gross or nasty.

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    Her rough past motivated her to work hard, and strive for excellence at Conrad High School.

    "So it felt really surreal just because to think that around 3 years ago and now, I’m here, like, making A's, writing essays and now being the valedictorian of my class," Haghar said.

    She wanted her graduation speech to be meaningful and powerful.

    Haghar plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and continue her work as an advocate for social justice.

    "In Dallas ISD, we educate leaders of tomorrow and encourage student voices, and we are looking into this matter," a district statement read. The district later issued an apology, saying the decision to limit the speech "may not have been reflective of the core values we teach our students."