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On June 3, 2019, Emmett J. Conrad High School held its senior graduation and the commencement speech was delivered by valedictorian Rooha Hagher. But when Hagher addressed gun violence affecting young people—citing the names of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin—her principal Temesghen Asmerom ordered her mic cut off. He then came to the podium and lied to the audience, telling them it was a “technical difficulty.”
When Hagher showed a draft of her speech to an unnamed white teacher before graduation, he told her to “delete those two f**king lines” about gun violence against people of color and the suffering of children in other countries, saying it would encourage “anger against white people” who “experience high levels of discrimination in America.” Principal Asmerom then told Hagher her speech was sending the message, “You will get shot if you’re black in America.”
Hagher’s speech as written said, “To the kids that were murdered in senseless mass shootings… To Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and all the other children who became victims of injustice… I’m sorry. Tonight is a celebration of our achievements, yes, but it is also a reminder of all the work that needs to be done … No matter which path you take in life, where you end up in the next decade, remember you have an obligation to community, and the world at large.”
After facing religious persecution, Hagher and her family immigrated from Iran when she was just 12-years-old. She will be heading to the University of Texas at Austin for college.
Please take one or both of the following actions:
1) Contact Emmett J. Conrad High School principal Temesghen Asmerom and Dallas Independent School District superintendent Michael Hinosa through one of the channels below and give them the following message, personalized to your liking:
I was absolutely disgusted to learn you shut off the mic of valedictorian Rooha Hagher during her 2019 commencement speech at Emmett J. Conrad High School. How dare you prevent this gifted young lady from discussing the critical issue of gun violence with her peers? This is an issue that affects K-12 students in America every single day, whether they’re experiencing actual gun violence, engaging in active shooter drills, or suffering from vicarious trauma with the constant news of school shootings. It is also inhuman of you to deny the impact that police gun violence has had on young people in communities of color. It sounds like you have some racist staff at Emmett J. Conrad (claiming that white people experience high levels of discrimination?) and need to clean house. Rooha also deserves a formal apology from you. It is sad you are so ignorant and bigoted you can’t even see the brilliant young leader in front of your eyes and nurture her as she moves forward into adulthood. I will be watching your actions very closely and will advocate in the community as necessary in response. I will NOT accept school administrators who stunt the growth of our children and discourage them from using their talents to seek justice and help less-fortunate others.
Emmett J. Conrad High School principal Temesghen Asmerom
Phone: (972) 502-2300
Dallas Independent School District superintendent Michael Hinosa
Phone: (972) 925-3700
Email via webform: https://www.dallasisd.org/comments
2) Tweet at Rooha Hagher (@itsRoohaHagher) and tell her how much you appreciate her advocacy for gun violence prevention and social justice.
Hey @ItsRoohaHagher, I’m so sorry your mic was cut off by your principal. I want you to know your voice matters a great deal! Lead us forward to greater safety & justice! #GunControlNow
Once you have taken one or both of the above actions, fill out the three fields below and click the orange banner to report taking action!