Commencement speech by Oakland Tech’s first male Black valedictorian goes viral

Oakland Technical High School’s first Black male valedictorian, Ahmed Muhammad, delivered a memorable speech at his graduation ceremony on May 29. Clips featuring his words of wisdom are being shared widely across social media. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom posted a clip from the speech on Twitter Monday morning, writing,” Thank you, Ahmed for your powerful words.  Look out world — Oakland Tech is coming with some serious change makers!” 

Muhammad, 18, graduated at the top of his class from the Oakland school with a 4.73 GPA

“I recently became the first Black male valedictorian in our school’s history,” he said. “And I want to say something about that … Oakland Technical High School has been around for 106 years and there’s absolutely no way you can tell me I’m the first Black person capable of being valedictorian.”

He went on, “But for all those who didn’t get to maximize their potential — for all those who had the ability, but lacked the opportunity — I owe it to them to appreciate this history made by the people who put me in this position. We owe it to them to make sure that, while I may be the first young Black man to be our school’s valedictorian, I won’t be the last.” 

The high school, called “Oakland Tech” or “Tech” by students, has a diverse student body with 35% of students identifying as Black, 23% white, 19% Asian and 10% Latino. Over 2,000 students attend the school.

Muhammad applied to 11 colleges and was accepted to them all, including Harvard and Princeton. He has opted to attend Stanford in the fall, according to a segment on Good Morning America

You can watch the speech in its entirety on YouTube.

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