Brooks Hamby gives his thoughts on his speech heard around the U.S.


Brooks Hamby 1

BRAWLEY – Brawley Union High School (BUHS) Senior Brooks Hamby gave his thoughts on his inspirational Salutatorian speech he gave Friday night at the Class of 2014 graduation.

“It’s pretty surprising,” said Hamby. “It all started out with a little back and forth with the high school and then finally getting to speak in front of Brawley. It’s a pretty small school. I go on my favorite news sites and there I am. It’s an exciting thing on how wide of an outreach this has had.”

The story and video first appeared on The Desert Review Saturday. The story and video went viral with several news organizations picking up the story, as well as social media.

“The most amazing thing is how this has spread,” said Hamby. “The comments have been overwhelmingly positive. The fact that there are very little negative comments has been pretty stunning and very nice.”

Hamby said rumors about the school holding his diploma are not true.

“I’ve heard nothing from the school administration,” said Hamby. “After the speech, they kind of huddled up and talked to each other. Nothing has been said to me.”

When asked if the speech he gave was ad-libbed, Hamby was quick to say no. He wanted to do everything by the book.

“The speech I gave was my fourth draft,” said Hamby, “which was a variation of my first 3 drafts. On Wednesday morning I had my first draft denied by the counselor. Thursday morning my second draft was denied by the counselor and the principal. Thursday afternoon my third draft was denied by the counselor, the principal, and the superintendent. They sent me back a version of my third draft with any word or reference to God or religion blacked out. They said this would be approved. I sent the fourth draft to the counselor, the principal, and the superintendent at 5:09 p.m. on Thursday. The ceremony was at 8:00 p.m. I did not get a response on my final draft electronically and they didn’t speak to me before the speech. They never said a thing.”

Hamby said he felt a little nervous before the ceremony.

“I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be,” said Hamby.

The audience was quiet during the speech.

After he finished, the audience of several hundred comprised of his fellow students, family members, and staff responded with thundering applause.

“I hope that the legacy of my speech will not be that I was causing trouble,” said Hamby. “My goal was to keep focused on my message.”

“The school and their attorneys threatened to shut off the microphone several times prior to the graduation ceremony,” said Hamby. “I’m extremely happy that didn’t happen and that the message went far beyond the high school.”

Hamby sought counsel and determined to move forward with his fourth draft.

Below is the letter the District sent to Hamby;

Based on District legal counsel opinion referencing two 9th Circuit Appellate Court cases, any aspect of a graduation speech that makes reference to Jesus and prayer is inappropriate and violates prevailing legal standards. The first and second draft speeches proposed oppose government case law and are a violation of the constitution. The District is advising you that reference to religious content is inappropriate and that the two drafts provided will not be allowed. If you choose to move forward with a differentiated speech that interjects religious content, the sound will be cut off, and a disclaimer to the entire audience must be made explaining the District’s position.  

Hamby will be attending Stanford University in the fall.


  1. Good for you for standing up for God, for standing up for what’s right, for standing up against all those who are trying to oppress Christians and trying to destroy the freedom of speech guaranteed to all in the Constitution of the United States,and thus, destroy the United States itself. Congratulations, and Thank You for being such a fine example of what a young man should be, for doing the right thing.

    • we have free speech but no one is guaranteed a forum for that speech. the school has a right to try to be fair (however that is defined)
      I am not a Christian and should not be forced to listen any more than a Christian should be force to listen to Islamic speech

      certain speech is appropriate for certain venues. thank the almighty .. fine …. prattle on .. that belongs in a house of worship.

  2. I don’t know the young man who gave the speech but I do know education and students, having working in an award winning school district for 24 years. Young Hamby was mature and on point. I was not a valedictorian, but I was a knucklehead. I got my head out of my rear (and addictions) to become very good counselor and president of a professional counseling organization. For the most part, God helps people to be healthy and successful. He helped me and I have witnessed Him helping many others. It should be fine for Hamby to share what helped him be successful and to encourage others to have a happy, healthy and honorable future and career. He earned the right to share some wisdom and it sounded like he got applause. For those who are negative towards the content of Hamby’s speech, try God for a year and see if you don’t graduate to a higher level. I heard he was a 4.0+ mature student who deserves the right to free speech as long as it is not hateful. If it makes people uncomfortable, maybe their issue is not with the message but the Messiah!

  3. What he did was neither courageous nor inspirational. It was the act of an emotionally immature boy who, once told he couldn’t, did it anyway.

    That has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with this child needing to grow up.

    • I am sorry to disagree with you. This young man stood up for something he truly believed in. It is people that stand for something that lead this country. Those that just follow achieve nothing. He was polite and well spoken. He was not rude or violent. More power to him and much success but I doubt he will need it with God on his side.

  4. This is a Judeo-Christian village…MOONS AGO BABY! It is now a mix of a lot of people. Christianity is not getting silenced. When Christmas comes around it’s shoved in our face. Not too many Hanukkah shows on.

  5. What he said didn’t get any ones attention until after who cares if he said god, jesus etc. No one Complained so there you have it. LET IT GO. BECOME PREZ BROOKS

  6. This response is to Simone. I’m sorry you and other non-religious were offended. Having said that I am getting really sick and tired of the minority ruling the majority. Our country was founded on Christian faith and principles. That is a tradition that we have gone away from as we have become a diverse people. Seems to me we need a lot more God and a lot less other stuff. If you don’t like what you hear or heard at or about the graduation speech, don’t listen/read. There are many, many more Christians than not. We need to stop being silenced. There are plenty of other countries you can explore to find people of the same faith as you. Just saying.

  7. 3 times the writer spelled principal wrong. Is this some kind of play on words or was the editor sleeping when this went to press?

  8. This kid did what he felt was right. You can agree or disagree with his speech. That is your CHOICE. To make a student feel that what he believes in his heart is inappropriate is telling our kids to be robots and to only do or say what is accepted by others. Kudos to him! for doing what he felt was right.

  9. Some people don’t understand that some of his speech was offensive to some people. “Do what is godly” etc.. I am not of the Christian faith, and it upsets me that a public school didn’t cut off the mic. There should always be a separation of church and state, especially for the citizens of this community who are not Christian, like myself.

    • Separation of church and state was instituted to prevent government from meddling with religion affairs. This speech is not a corruption of church and state because it is not the school giving this view and further than that a school can’t suppress a student speech based on content with precedents set such as Tinker v. Des Moines.

    • God is a capitalized word, as God is Deity, Simone. Whether you like it or not. It’s o.k. if you don’t like it, but don’t try to deny Godly people their right to believe and speak of their belief. And if it offends you, the same door that comes in goes out.

    • Simone, whatever religion or faith you may practice apparently does not believe in understanding and tolerance. Pity…

      • So if someone is gay, bi, drag, would that person be silenced (likely not…)?
        I’m a Christian however I prefer not to hold other people’s beliefs etc against them.
        Arguing serves little point on any side (IMO)

    • I am a non- believer who fully supports the young man’s right to state his heart-felt thoughts on what brought him through to be a graduate and Salutatorian! He was not making a speech to expound on religion per se but rather was thanking the one whom he believed helped get him to where he was. Everyone has a right to his or her religious beliefs, and, as an athiest, I am not bothered by the beliefs of any religion, whether it be Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Juddiasm, or even Wiccan unless try and convert me. This young man was not trying to concert anyone, and the school stomped on his free speech rights!

  10. Isn’t this all about freedom of speech? Calling me an idiot is veryarrow minded as I also have a right to voice my opinion. You have no idea who I’m yet you show anger because I don’t agree. That shows the dangers of religion.

  11. If he would have used the word Allah he would be most likely arrested as a terrorist.
    Religious remarks need to stay out of schools in respect to other faith.

    • He wouldn’t be arrested but Islam is contrary to excelling in education outside of Islamic mandated education. So it is not likely that a Muslim student will credit Allah for their success because anyone who pursues education outside of Islam is at best a nominal Muslim. If they did they still wouldn’t be arrested.

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