Parents upset Billerica schools invited indicted activist Monica Cannon-Grant to give speech
BILLERICA - Some Billerica parents are sounding off after an activist who is facing federal fraud charges was invited and paid to speak to students at the high school in honor of Black History Month.
Monica Cannon-Grant is a well-known racial justice activist who organized a rally of thousands after the murder of George Floyd. Last year, she was indicted on 18 counts of fraud for allegedly stealing money donated to her non-profit, Violence in Boston.
Parents say they were not informed that Cannon-Grant was invited to speak to students.
"As a parent, I just feel like it's not good," one parent told WBZ.
"It is very curious as to why somebody would be invited to a public school with that amount of charges on them," another said.
Cannon-Grant told WBZ that an administrator in Billerica schools reached out to her about speaking to students late last year. She brought her own videographer to the speech, and it was uploaded to YouTube.
In the speech, Grant tells the students to talk about and confront racism.
"Start having those uncomfortable conversations," she said.
She also references a derogatory phrase she called former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
"I made the front page of the Boston Globe three times in one year because I called the Mayor the M word. I'm not going to say it but it's mother something. I wouldn't advise you do that," she told the crowd.
WBZ interviewed Cannon-Grant after her speech. She said she does not understand why her appearance was controversial.
"Can you understand why they may be upset given the fact that you're under federal investigation?" WBZ's Louisa Moller asked.
"No, because I'm innocent until proven guilty," Cannon-Grant said.
A Billerica School Committee meeting will be held Tuesday evening to discuss her appearance.
Billerica's Superintendent of Schools Tim Piwowar is expected to address the public at the meeting. In a phone call with Louisa Moller, he said that the district is committed to ensuring a vetting process for outside speakers. He also wants to be careful not to discourage the voices of students.
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