Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have inspired not only students, but everyone tuning into the “Dear Class of 2020” virtual graduation.
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, many high school and college students have had to adjust their graduation plans. But the former President and First Lady made YouTube’s live-streaming ceremony one to remember.
On Sunday, June 7, the Obamas gave people a sense of hope during their moving commencement speeches. The dynamic duo each shared individual messages, as well as one together, in order to encourage, empower and uplift those graduating this year.
“Hello everybody and congratulations to the class of 2020,” Barack began his joint speech with his wife in a pre-taped recording.
“It’s a huge day for all of you,” Michelle said. “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.”
Celebs Celebrating the Graduating Class of 2020
She added, “These folks deserve your love and gratitude for helping you get here. So give them a squeeze if they’re with you right now…”
Barack chimed in, “Especially the dads!”
“If they’re not [with you], give them a call later. That’s from the moms, this is their day too,” Michelle went on.
The former President then took a moment to share some words of hope.
“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,” Barack said. “You accomplished all that. And just as you were rounding the final turn, the world through a pandemic your way.”
Michelle added, “And these past few months, you had to reach even higher, you weren’t just adjusting to a virtual classroom, you were helping your teachers adjust their audio so the rest of the class could hear. You weren’t just taking your finals online, you were making sure your siblings had enough time on the computer too to finish their work. And you weren’t just hanging out with your friends in your group chat, you were supporting them through all of this uncertainty and loss.”
“That’s a lot to ask of anybody, and I spite of it all, you did it all,” Barack expressed. “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,” he continued. “Hold your heads high and celebrate.”
“And go ahead and do a little dance, a cool dance,” Michelle encouraged.
In addition to the couple’s words of encouragement on Sunday, the Becoming author’s Reach Higher initiative is also hosting a full hour of content to celebrate the “Dear Class of 2020” ceremony.
“Since we launched Reach Higher, we had one clear goal in line. We wanted to make higher education cool,” Michelle said, as a collage of images and videos of students played in the background. “Because as a nation, that’s where the spotlight should be: on kids who work hard in school, who do the right thing when no one is watching.”
“Every single one of you has something to offer, and I can’t wait to see you all achieve,” she added.
Today’s virtual graduation featured other notable commencement speakers. Those participating? Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, BTS, Malala Yousafzai and so many more stars and public figures.
The event also had special appearances by Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Kerry Washington, Chloe x Halle, Zendaya, Jackie Aina and so many others.