NBC News
NBC News 16 May 2020

Obama's Virtual Commencement Speech To Class Of 2020: 'This Is Your Generation's World To Shape'

Description:

At the ‘Graduate Together' special, former President Obama News">Barack Obama tells graduating seniors to "set the world on a different path" while being "alive to one another's struggles" as they navigate through the coronavirus pandemic.


Ivanka Trump gave an online graduation address to the Class of 2020 at WSU Tech.
Joe Biden speaks to the Class of 2020.
Russlynn Ali of the XQ Institute joins Morning Joe to discuss the upcoming 'Graduate Together' Class of 2020 special. Aired on 5/15/2020.
Former President Bill Clinton delivered a commencement speech to the class of 2020 on Saturday.

… show captions ↓
GRADUATING CLASS OF 2020,
PLEASE WELCOME PRESIDENT BARACK
OBAMA.
>> HI, EVERYBODY.
THANK YOU FOR THAT BEAUTIFUL
INTRODUCTION.
I COULD NOT BE MORE PROUD OF
EVERYTHING YOU HAVE DONE IN
YOUR TIME WITH THE OBAMA
FOUNDATION.
AND, OF COURSE, I COULD NOT BE
MORE PROUD OF ALL OF YOU IN THE
GRADUATING CLASS OF 2020, AS
WELL AS THE TEACHERS AND
COACHES AND MOST OF ALL,
PARENTS AND FAMILY HAVE GUIDED
YOU ALONG THE WAY.
NOW, GRADUATING IS A BIG ACHIEVEMENT UNDER ANY
ACHIEVEMENT UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCE. SOME OF YOU HAVE
HAD TO OVERCOME SERIOUS
OBSTACLES ALONG THE WAY,
WHETHER IT WAS ILLNESS, OR A
PARENT LOSING A JOB, OR LIVING
IN A NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE PEOPLE
TOO OFTEN COUNT YOU OUT.
ALONG WITH THE USUAL CHALLENGES
OF GROWING UP, ALL OF YOU HAVE
HAD TO DEAL WITH THE ADDED
PRESSURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA,
REPORTS OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS,
AND THE SPECTER OF CLIMATE
CHANGE.
AND THEN, JUST AS YOU ARE ABOUT
TO CELEBRATE HAVING MADE IT
THROUGH, JUST AS YOU HAVE BEEN
LOOKING FORWARD TO PROMS AND
SENIOR NIGHTS, GRADUATION
CEREMONIES, AND LET’S FACE IT,
A WHOLE BUNCH OF PARTIES, THE
WORLD IS TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. I
KNOW AS MUCH AS YOU LOVE YOUR
PARENTS, THE THOUGHT OF BEING
STUCK AT HOME WITH THEM,
WATCHING BOARDGAMES OR
TARGETING ON TV IS NOT EXACTLY
HOW YOU ENVISIONED THE LAST FEW
MONTHS OF YOUR SENIOR YEAR.
NOW, I WILL BE HONEST WITH YOU.
THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF MISSING A
LIVE GRADUATION, THOSE WILL
PASS PRETTY QUICK.
I DON’T REMEMBER MUCH OF MY OWN
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION.
I KNOW THAT NOT HAVING TO SIT
THERE AND LISTEN TO A
COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER ISN’T ALL
THAT BAD.
MY SPEECHES USUALLY GO ON WAY
TOO LONG.
ALSO, NOT THAT MANY PEOPLE LOOK
GREAT IN THOSE CAPS ESPECIALLY
IF YOU HAVE BIG EARS LIKE ME.
AND, YOU WILL HAVE PLENTY OF
TIME TO CATCH UP WITH YOUR
FRIENDS ONCE THE IMMEDIATE
PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS IS OVER.
BUT, WHAT REMAINS TRUE, IS THAT
YOUR GRADUATION MARKS YOUR
PASSAGE TO ADULTHOOD, THE TIME
WHEN YOU BEGIN TO TAKE CHARGE
OF YOUR OWN LIFE, IS WHEN YOU
GET TO DECIDE WHAT IS IMPORTANT
TO YOU.
WHAT KIND OF CAREER YOU WANT TO
PURSUE, WHO YOU WANT TO BUILD A
FAMILY WITH.
THE VALUES YOU WANT TO LIVE BY.
AND, GIVEN THE CURRENT STATE OF
THE WORLD, THAT MIGHT BE SCARY.
IF YOU PLANNED ON GOING AWAY
FOR COLLEGE, GETTING DROPPED OFF
AT CAMPUS IN THE FALL, THAT IS
NO LONGER A GIVEN.
IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO WORK
WHILE GOING TO SCHOOL, FINDING
THAT FIRST JOB IS GOING TO BE
TOUGH.
EVEN FAMILIES THAT ARE
RELATIVELY WELL-OFF ARE DEALING
WITH MASSIVE UNCERTAINTY.
THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING BEFORE,
ARE HANGING ON BY A THREAD.
ALL OF WHICH MEANS THAT YOU ARE
GOING TO HAVE TO GROW UP FASTER
THAN SOME GENERATIONS.
THIS PANDEMIC HAS SHAKEN OFF
THE STATUS GROW AND LAID BARE A
LOT OF OUR COUNTRY’S DEEP-
SEATED PROBLEMS.
FROM MASSIVE ECONOMIC
INEQUALITY, TWO ONGOING RACIAL
DISPARITIES, TO A LACK OF BASIC
HEALTHCARE FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED
IT.
IT HAS BECOME A LOT OF YOUNG
PEOPLE UP TO THE FACT THAT THE
OLD WAYS OF DOING THINGS JUST
DON’T WORK.
THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW
MUCH MONEY YOU MAKE, IF
EVERYONE AROUND YOU IS HUNGRY
AND SICK.
AND, THAT OUR SOCIETY AND OUR
DEMOCRACY ONLY WORK WHEN WE
THINK NOT JUST ABOUT OURSELVES,
BUT ABOUT EACH OTHER.
IT HAS ALSO PULLED THE BACK ON
ANOTHER HARD TRUTH, SOMETHING
THAT WE ALL HAVE TO EVENTUALLY
ACCEPT ONCE OUR CHILDHOOD COMES
TO AN END.
ALL THOSE ADULTS THAT YOU USED
TO THINK WERE IN CHARGE AND
KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING, IT
TURNS OUT THEY DON’T HAVE ALL
THE ANSWERS.
A LOT OF THEM AREN’T EVEN
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.
SO, IF THE WORLD IS GOING TO
GET BETTER, IT’S UP TO YOU.
THAT REALIZATION MAY BE KIND OF
INTIMIDATING.
BUT, I HOPE IT IS ALSO
INSPIRING.
WITH ALL THE CHALLENGES THIS
COUNTRY FACES RIGHT NOW, NOBODY
CAN TELL YOU YOU ARE TOO YOUNG
TO UNDERSTAND, OR THIS IS HOW
IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN DONE.
BECAUSE, WITH SO MUCH
UNCERTAINTY, WITH EVERYTHING
SUDDENLY UP FOR GRABS, THIS IS
YOUR GENERATION WORLD TO SHAPE.
SINCE I AM ONE OF THE OLD GUYS,
I WON’T TELL YOU WHAT TO DO
WITH THIS POWER, THAT REST IN
YOUR HANDS, BUT I WILL LEAVE
YOU WITH THREE QUICK PIECES OF
ADVICE.
FIRST, DON’T BE AFRAID.
AMERICA HAS GONE THROUGH TOUGH
TIMES BEFORE.
SLAVERY, CIVIL WAR, FAMINE,
DISEASE. THE GREAT DEPRESSION,
AND 9/11.
AND EACH TIME, WE CAME OUT
STRONGER.
USUALLY, BECAUSE A NEW
GENERATION, YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE
YOU, LEARN FROM PAST MISTAKES,
AND FIGURED OUT HOW TO MAKE
THINGS BETTER.
SECOND, DO WHAT YOU THINK IS
RIGHT.
DOING WHAT FEELS GOOD, WHAT IS
CONVENIENT OR EASY, THAT’S HOW
MOST KIDS THINK.
UNFORTUNATELY, A LOT OF SO-
CALLED GROWN-UPS INCLUDED SOME
WITH FANCY TITLES AND IMPORTANT
JOBS STILL THINK THAT WAY.
WHICH IS WHY THINGS ARE SO
SCREWED UP.
I HOPE THAT INSTEAD, YOU DECIDE
TO GROUND YOURSELF AND VALUES
THAT LAST.
LIKE HONESTY, HARD WORK, AND
RESPONSIBILITY.
FAIRNESS, AND GENEROSITY.
RESPECT FOR OTHERS.
YOU WON’T GET IT RIGHT EVERY
TIME.
YOU’LL MAKE MISTAKES, WE ALL
DO.
BUT, IF YOU LISTEN TO THE TRUTH
INSIDE YOURSELF, EVEN WHEN IT
IS HARD, EVEN WHEN IT IS
INCONVENIENT.
PEOPLE WILL NOTICE.
THEY WILL GRAVITATE TOWARDS
YOU, AND YOU WILL BE PART OF
THE SOLUTION, INSTEAD OF THE
PROBLEM.
AND FINALLY, BUILD A COMMUNITY.
NO ONE DOES BIG THINGS BY
THEMSELVES.
RIGHT NOW, WHEN PEOPLE ARE
SCARED IT’S EASY TO BE CYNICAL
AND SAY LET ME JUST LOOK OUT
FOR MYSELF, MY FAMILY, OR
PEOPLE WHO LOOK AND THINK OR
PRAY LIKE ME.
BUT, IF WE ARE GOING TO GET
THROUGH THESE DIFFICULT TIMES,
IF WE ARE GOING TO TAKE A WORLD
WHERE EVERYBODY HAS OPPORTUNITY
TO FIND A JOB, AND FOR COLLEGE,
IF WE ARE GOING TO SAVE THE
ENVIRONMENT, AND DEFEAT FUTURE
PANDEMICS, THEN WE ARE GOING TO
HAVE TO DO IT TOGETHER.
SO BE ALIVE TO ONE ANOTHER’S
STRUGGLES.
STAND UP FOR ONE ANOTHER’S
RIGHTS.
LEAVE BEHIND ALL THE OLD WAYS
OF THINKING THAT DIVIDE US,
SEXISM, RACIAL PREJUDICE,
STATUS AND GREED, AND SET THE
WORLD ON A DIFFERENT PATH.
WHEN YOU NEED HELP, MICHELLE
AND I HAVE MADE THE MISSION OF
OUR FOUNDATION, TO GIVE YOUNG
PEOPLE LIKE YOU THE SKILLS THAT
ARE WORKING TO LEADING YOUR OWN
COMMUNITY, AND TO CONNECT YOU
WITH OTHER YOUNG LEADERS AROUND
THE COUNTRY, AND AROUND THE
GLOBE.
BUT, THE TRUTH IS, YOU DON’T
NEED US TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO,
BECAUSE, IN SO MANY WAYS, YOU
HAVE ALREADY STARTED TO LEAD.

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