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Graduation speech gone wrong

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -“Honestly, I’m trying to read my scribble because I wrote this at like 3:30 this morning,” said Marion County Public Schools Superintendent Heidi Maier in a speech to Vanguard High School’s graduating class.

Scribbles that turned into a speech students would never forget.

“You want to protest what you believe in, good, good,” she said. “Peaceful protests, second amendment.”

Maier was referring to the freedom of speech granted by the first amendment.

“When we played the national anthem, many of us stood,” she said. “You know, I’m a daughter a veteran so you know what I was feeling at that time.”

“Some of you kneeled, OK.”

Many seniors took offense to her speech, like fourth-generation Vanguard student, Kiahra Moore.

“People still look at us a certain type of way because of our skin color and we can’t change that,” Moore said. “We can’t change our skin color; we can’t do that.”

“It was our 50th anniversary since integration,” said Kiahra’s mom Kristal Baker. “Vanguard was the first integrated high school in Marion County, so this was supposed to be a special year for them.”

“She could have used that history and intertwined with with the students were kneeling for and she chose not to.”

Later, students made a petition to ban Maier from speaking at West Port High School’s graduation this morning.

After the petition received over 1,500 signatures, Maier did not address the school’s graduating class this morning.

Maier responded in a statement, saying, “I respect the outreach from one west port students to discuss my attendance today... I am sensitive to today being Juneteenth.”

“I continue to encourage our graduates, and all our students, to be the change makers, and to engage in proactive communication,” she wrote.

Moore posted a video after the ceremony that gained traction on social media.

In it, she said, “Don’t tell me that I’m fighting and protesting for some cameras.”

“I do it on and off because that’s what I have to do,” she said. “I’m going to continue to fight for people when y’all won’t.”

Moore says she will continue to fight for equality, whether there are cameras pointed at her or not.

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