Delivering a speech is an art in and of itself, and the best ones are those that reflect the speaker in the truest sense. That’s why the initial actions of SouthWest High School in Edgecombe Country, North Carolina were so preposterous.
Per Mic.com, senior class president and Class of 2017 graduating student Marvin Wright had his diploma withheld for over two days after refusing to read a speech that administrators prepared for him. He instead, read the very speech he had initially prepared: his own.
SouthWest Edgecombe’s actions were reportedly in retaliation for his Wright’s refusal to read the administrators’ four-sentence-long speech, according to the Wilson Times.
Wright worked for more than two weeks on his remarks, but was asked at the last moment to not deliver his speech and instead deliver one prepared by school administrators.
"To be honest, the speech that they wrote wasn't me at all," Wright said to the Wilson Times. “I feel like they tried to belittle me in a way because I had more to say. I feel like they couldn’t describe the ways that I felt and the things that I experienced. There were only four sentences and I was like, ‘I really worked hard on this speech and as senior class president, I think I should read my own speech,’ and they was like, ‘No, this is what you are going to read.’”
Instead, Wright “hit them with the hee” and decided to read his own speech after all. In the speech, he exclaimed, “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.”
As you can see in the video recording, the administrators were none too pleased about Wright’s surprise decision. Per Superintendent John Farrelly’s statement to the Wilson Times, it wasn’t the content that bothered him, “I heard his speech and did not have any problems with the content.” The issue was, in fact, that he each speaker was beholden to a “practice speech,” which needed to be approved by a particular deadline, WRAL reported.
Despite the drastic actions taken by administrators, they eased up on Wright and decided to give him his diploma after all, two days after graduation. School principal Craig Harris personally hand-delivered the diploma to his home and Farrelly apologized to Wright over the phone.
One thing’s for sure, his mother is certainly proud of him and I have a feeling that this is what primarily matters to the young graduate. "My thing to him was to follow your heart," said his mother, Jokita Wright to WRAL. "He put God first. He spoke about parents, his classmates and spoke about his mom."