Salutatorian's speech stirs controversy during Americus-Sumter graduation

Salutatorian's speech stirs controversy during Americus-Sumter graduation
Floyd made a speech at commencement (Source:WALB)
Nacharlesia Floyd (left), Ti'erra Floyd (Right) (Source:WALB)
Nacharlesia Floyd (left), Ti'erra Floyd (Right) (Source:WALB)

SUMTER CO., GA (WALB) - One South Georgia high school graduate's family said they believe her microphone was lowered during her commencement speech.

School officials said she began reading parts of a script that were not approved. Superintendent Dr. Torrance Choates said the review process was fair and folks should be cautious before jumping to conclusions, but the graduate's family said she was wronged.

A proud mother stood ready with her phone in hand ready to catch her Salutatorian daughter's speech on camera, but Nacharlesia Floyd's mother said she wasn't expecting what happened next during her daughters speech at Americus Sumter High School's Graduation Friday night.

"It's very diverse with people of some many different backgrounds," Floyd said, in a video posted on Facebook of the speech.

At the end of that sentence, family members said her microphone was cut off. So, Floyd pushed on speaking to the crowd at the top of her lungs.

"She has always dreamed of doing a speech," Ti'erra Floyd, the mother of Nacharlesia, said. "For the mics to get cut off and her hard work not able to be seen to unify a class, it just hurt me to see my baby humiliated in public."

The audio in the cell phone video appears to lower before Floyd talks about recognizing female African American graduates. The audio does eventually come back up during the speech.

"The mics cut off and there was a little bit of controversy over the first page about me honoring," Salutatorian Nacharlesia Floyd said. "All and all, I was just trying to unify my whole class, all minorities, and give them encouraging words as they go offer to college as first generation students."

School officials said the first page of her speech was not approved by the graduation committee, but was edited by a teacher previously.

They add parts of the speech were deemed inappropriate for the program, and communicated to Floyd, but Floyd read them during commencement regardless.

Sumter County Schools Superintendent Dr. Torrance Choates said there will be consequences for not following proper procedures.

Floyd says she did all she knew to do to get the speech approved, and eventually posted it online from her living room.

"We just hope that her speech does unify the community," Ti'erra said.

Nacharlesia said that she believes it already is doing that.

"In a way it has by them coming together to support me and my cause," Nacharlesia said.

Its a speech that, approved or not, Floyd's family members said makes them proud.

Floyd said she has received more than half a million dollars in scholarship offers and will be attending Xavier University in Louisiana this fall.

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