Fitzgerald High salutatorian calls out racism, criticizes administration during graduation speech

Fitzgerald High salutatorian calls out racism, criticizes administration during graduation speech

FITZGERALD, Ga. (WALB) -The salutatorian of Fitzgerald High School College and Career Academy sparked controversy after delivering her graduation speech.

She spoke about issues she said she and her African American classmates faced while attending the school.

“I was nervous, very nervous. My original speech was rejected by the school and the school board for being too political and saying black lives matter,” said Prescott.

Sophie Prescott, a recent graduate, will attend the University of Georgia in the Fall. She finished the semester with a 4.0.

She said she intended to bring awareness to racial discrimination, oppression, and derogatory comments from her teachers.

Sophie and her friends after graduation.
Sophie and her friends after graduation. (Source: WALB)

“Biases, teachers saying things they should not be saying, like racist things you know and they treat people of color, the students of color differently than the white students. It is an issue that we have talked about among ourselves. Other students and I felt like it needed to be heard and hopefully, it will change,” said Prescott.

Prescott said the principal had her speech for two weeks before graduation, and three days before, she says he asked her to change it.

“I chose to say my original speech regardless of the consequences because I felt it needed to be heard and that my classmates would relate to what I was saying,” said Prescott.

Prescott said the point of her speech was not about herself but to encourage her classmates to speak up and care about racial injustice.

The principal cut Sophie's speech short during commencement.
The principal cut Sophie's speech short during commencement. (Source: WALB)

“It is not the time to be silent, we need our voices to be heard. We need people to know that we are not going to be silent anymore and even if it is just one person, talking using their voice, others will join them for their bravery and we can do something about it and make a change,” said Prescott.

We reached out to the superintendent’s office and principal multiple times for comment. We haven’t heard back at the moment.

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