• Urban Educator logo

Oakland Student Is High School’s First Black Male Valediction

  • Oakland Technical High School in California was founded in 1915 and has produced some notable alumni, including Ron Dellums, former U.S. congressman and former mayor of Oakland; Clint Eastwood, Academy Award-winning actor and director; Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party; and Frank Oz, co-creator of the Muppets. But never in the school’s 106-year history has it had a black male valedictorian -- until this year, when Ahmed Muhammad was named valedictorian of the 2021 graduating class.

    A stellar student, Muhammad earned an overall 4.73 grade-point average during his four years at Oakland Tech. In addition to his regular course load, he also took 13 Advanced Placement classes and multiple classes at a local community college. He scored 1540 on the SAT college entrance exam, with a perfect 800 score in the Math section and a 740 in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section.  

    Muhamad applied to 11 colleges, including Howard, Princeton, Columbia, Harvard and Stanford and received acceptances to each one. He has elected to attend Stanford, his "dream school," where he will major in engineering. 

    Muhammad also excelled outside the classroom, playing on his high school basketball team, volunteering as a tutor, participating in the Oakland Youth Advisory Commission and launching a non-profit company called Kits Cubed to provide science kits to children in Oakland.

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, approximately 3,000 kits have been distributed to Oakland Unified School District elementary and middle schools.

    In his valedictory speech, Muhammad said the honor of being named first in his 2021 senior class was not only his own but also belonged to those who came before him and alongside him.

    "For all of those who didn't get to maximize their potential, for all of 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," said Muhammad.

    The valedictorian also challenged his classmates to do their part to lift up those who come after. "We owe it to them to make sure that, while I may be the school's first young black man to make it as our school's valedictorian, I won't be the last," said Muhammad.