*Marvin Wright gave a speech at his North Carolina high school graduation last week, but it wasn’t the one that was approved by his school’s administrators, and he says the school hung on to his diploma because of it.
Wright, the senior class president at Southwest Edgecombe High School, said he arrived at graduation with his speech in hand, only to be handed prepared remarks from school administrators that he was ordered to deliver instead, according to Time Magazine.
Wright, 18, made a game time decision at the podium. He put down the folder that contained the school’s remarks and pulled out his phone to read his own, after receiving encouragement from his classmates and teachers.
“I looked at my classmates and most of them were nodding their head, like ‘Go ahead, Marvin, read your speech,'” he said.
Wright said the school’s principal, Craig Harris, initially told his mother that he was never supposed to write his own speech and then said he had missed the deadline to turn it in. But Wright said he was never told such guidelines.
When students lined up to trade their mock diplomas for their real ones after the ceremony, Wright was told he’d have to retrieve his from the principal. He found the principal’s door locked, so he left the school empty-handed on graduation day.
“It was absolutely an overreaction by the administration and totally uncalled for,” said Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent John Farrelly, who apologized to the Wright and his family on behalf of the school.
“I thought the speech was fine. It was appropriate. I found nothing wrong with the content of the speech,” he said. ” The administration gave the order, which never should’ve happened, to pull his diploma. I believe the administration did so because they were upset he didn’t follow the protocol.” In addition to the school preparing remarks — which Farrelly said has happened in the past — that protocol included a ban on electronic devices at the ceremony.
Harris delivered the diploma to Marvin Wright on Sunday.
Here are the remarks prepared by the school:
I would like to thank all of our friends and family for being here tonight. I would also like to address my fellow graduates one last time before we leave this gym. Although we may all never be in the same room at the same time again, we will always share the memories that we created within these walls. And no matter what we all do after graduation, never forget that this is one place that we all have in common, this place is home. Congratulations graduates, we did it!
Read Marvin Wright’s full speech here:
Good evening to all who are gathered on today for the commencement of Southwest High School’s 2017 graduating class. My name is Marvin Wright and I am delighted to be standing here as your senior class president.
First and foremost, I want to thank God for making all of this possible. Secondly, I would like to thank all of the parents and family members for the unconditional love you have provided my classmates and I during our unpredictable phases of life, for ultimately sticking with us through thick and thin, and giving us constant guidance. I would like to also thank the faculty and staff of Southwest for instilling knowledge and preparing us for the next chapter that we will soon embark on. And lastly, but certainly not least, I would like to personally thank my mother, Jokita Wright, for all of the sacrifices you have made for my two siblings and I. Selfless, strong, determined, humorous, provider, protector are only a few attributes that exhibit who you are, which motivates me day to day. So, Thank you Mom! For without you I would not be standing here today.
Now, class of 2017…. this it it! We have finally made it. There are no other people I’d rather have spent my high school years with than all of you. Most of the students in our graduating class have known each other since elementary school, which is an accumulation of 13 consecutive years.
When we take a walk down memory lane we can all visualize ourselves being young, naïve, tiny elementary school kids who relied on nap time throughout Kindergarten, who look forward to recess every day, and counted down the days and minutes until the biggest event of elementary school…field day.
Then we moved onto middle school where things didn’t work in our favor, such as me not hitting my intended growth spurt. Middle school was a transition period of having your own locker, having multiple teachers, dress codes were challenged in trying to figure out how to come up with your own “style” by also following the uniform guidelines, and athletics became an outlet for students who sought competition.
Finally, we made it to high school. There was more freedom, better lunch choices, and opportunities for us to explore, to figure out who we are.
It seems like yesterday we were timid freshmen excited to be part of the mature crowd, but unsure where we would fit in. For many of us, our first year in high school was a time where the temptation to look at your cell phone was unbearable and sometimes we caved in, which resulted in us getting our phones taken. Or how about when we attended our first Friday Night Lights football game in which we were able to stay out late and hang with our friends.
Sophomore year then quickly approached us where we knew the routine and thought we knew it all, but in reality we were still being overlooked because we were still considered under classmen.
Junior year, reality sunk in. We did all that we could to build up our resume by being committed to our academics, participating in varsity sports, and taking leadership positions in different clubs. We also took the necessary steps to prepare ourselves for the SAT and ACT, as well as faced the immense task of figuring out a timeline that will prepare us for after high school. I think it is safe to say that although junior year was the most stressful and challenging, it was the most rewarding.
Once the class of 2016 walked across the stage we were finally seniors! The year we had been dreaming of since freshmen year, was finally here. There was so many things to look forward to: seniority, senior prom, senior picnic, receiving our caps and gowns, and the list goes on. As seniors everything seemed different…teachers became mentors, friends became family, and Southwest High School became home. Little did we know that this year would come at a blink of an eye and the past four years would boil down to this day where all the hard work, laughs, tears, and long hours will have paid off.
Even though today is an accomplishment for the entire 2017 class and all of those who have helped us on this journey, it is going to take a lot of adjusting to get use to not seeing every single one of you on a daily basis. Even though I can’t predict the future I know that we all have the ability to make a difference in this world. For you should have the mindset that not only will you graduate today, but everyday is a graduation. This ultimately means that graduation is a continuous process in which you should strive to true lifelong learning of continuous, self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for personal improvement.
I am no expert in this journey we call life but we all have the ability to make a difference and to be that change the world needs. The past 13 years have equipped us for a time as this to stand bold in who we are. So I say to my classmates, cherish these last few minutes we spend here and the memories we have created and get ready for the journey ahead.
Thank you guys for making my senior year better than I could ever imagine and for all the moments I will always hold dear to my heart. Thank you, and congratulations to the class of 2017!!!
The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.
The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.
“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”
Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”
The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.
“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”
Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”
In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.
“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”
Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.
“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”
Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”
New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’
*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.
“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).
It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.
EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.
Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars. As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.
This year has been a year like no other. “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead. Radio Programmers click here for adds.
“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA. Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita. The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture. “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms. Click here to listen on Spotify.
Celebrate Halloween with ‘Spell’ Starring Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and John Beasley / WATCH
*Today/TONIGHT is Halloween and what could be a more perfect way to celebrate than with the release of SPELL? Enjoy the clips below to get you in the spooky spirit!
Omari Hardwick (“Power,” Sorry to Bother You), Loretta Devine (“Black-ish,” Crash) and John Beasley (The Sum of All Fears, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) star in the terrifying thriller SPELL, coming to Premium Video-On-Demand and Digital today October 30 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
While flying to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise’s (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
DIRECTED BY | Mark Tonderai
SCREENPLAY BY | Kurt Wimmer
STARRING | Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine, John Beasley
AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS | Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, DirecTV, VUDU, Xfinity, FandangoNOW and more.
Rating | R – violence, disturbing/bloody images, and language
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