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A high school valedictorian in Dallas said her principal intentionally had her microphone cut off during her graduation speech Saturday because she mentioned the names of two young African Americans whose deaths sparked national outrage.
Emmett J. Conrad High School senior Rooha Haghar shared a video of her interrupted speech on her Twitter page Monday. In the footage, Haghar says: "To the kids that were murdered in senseless mass shootings. To Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and all the other children who became victims ..."
Before she could finish her sentence, her microphone is muted. Haghar is seen in the video looking around, tapping her microphone and then taking her seat as her classmates cheer.
Principal Temesghen Asmerom then gets up and taps the microphone, which is working again, before addressing the audience.
"My valedictorian speech was cut short because i said the names of black children who had become victims of police brutality," Haghar captioned the video. "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."
Haghar tweeted that in addition to mentioning Martin and Rice, she was going to talk about "kids across the globe affected by war, famine, persecution and child labor" and remind her classmates that they have "an obligation to your community, and to the world at large."
Asmerom did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Dallas Independent School District said in a statement: "In Dallas ISD, we educate leaders of tomorrow and encourage student voices, and we are looking into this matter.”
Haghar immigrated from Iran with her family when she was 12, according to NBC affiliate KXAS in Fort Worth. She told the outlet she was compelled to talk about Martin and Rice because she was "close to their age" and knows "this is a reality that black families have to deal with."
Martin, 17, was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, in February 2012 in Sanford, Florida. Rice, 12, was shot and killed in November 2014 outside the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, after officer Timothy Loehmann and his partner received a 911 call about someone pointing a gun at people.
According to Haghar, she showed a copy of her speech to Asmerom before the graduation and he told her to remove Martin's and Rice's names because it was too political. The graduating senior told KXAS that even though she was told not to mention their names, she never expected for her microphone to be muted during 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.