The virtual graduation ceremony--'Dear Class of 2020'-- was headlined by former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. Organised by YouTube, the virtual event gave a farewell to students who were not be able to get an in-person farewell due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish and BTS were among the 70 other celebrities who participated in the celebration.
Applauding the class o f 2020, President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama in a joint video speech said, "Hello everybody and congratulations to the class of 2020. It’s a huge day for all of you. We couldn’t be more excited to be celebrating with you today… Now while you might not get the experience of sweating under your cap and gown under the hot sun, get embarrassed by your family yelling out your name when you walk across the stage, you still have all those people with you today."
Barack added, "Today is the culmination of a long journey. Think back to when you were starting your first year. You were probably just hoping by graduation day, you’d met some new people, learned some new skills and got yourself ready for the first step, maybe college, maybe grad school, maybe your first job. You accomplished all that. And just as you were rounding the final turn, the world through a pandemic your way."
"We want you to know that the investment in your education is one of the best investments you’ll ever make. We’ve seen this to be true for decades. The better education you have the more better likely and your families will be to fair. It’s born out over the past couple months and it will continue to be born out for years to come. So you have done great. Hold your heads high and celebrate. And go ahead and do a little dance, a cool dance," he said.
Pop queen Beyonce also shared a few words of wisdom with the graduating students and spoke about the killing of George Floyd, a black man who was a victim of police brutality. In her commencement speech, she said, " In the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic and worldwide expression outrage at the senseless killing of yet another unarmed black human being. And you still made it. We're so proud of you. Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the world know that Black Lives Matter."
"You are achieving things your parents and grandparents never could imagine for themselves. You are the answer to a generation of prayers, " she added.
She continued, "To all those who feel different, if you're a part of a group that's called 'other,' a group that does not get the chance to be center stage, build your own stage and make them see you. Your queerness is beautiful.
Your blackness is beautiful. Your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you is beautiful. I hope you continue to go into the world and show them that you will never stop being yourself. That it's your time now. Make them see you."
"To the young women, our future leaders know that you're about to make the world turn. I see you. You are everything the world needs. Make those power moves. Be excellent. And so the young kings lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity lead with heart," she said.
Check out the full speech here:
'Rain On Me' singer Lady Gaga said, "My speech was recorded before the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent activist movement protesting police brutality and systemic racism in this country. While my original commencement speech might not be directly relevant to what this country needs right now, I wish to tell you today, that although there is much to be sad about, there is much to be celebrated."
Here's her full speech:
Korean boy band BTS and singer Katy Perry gave a musical tribute to the Class of 2020. Check out their performances here: