Michelle Obama’s Graduation Speech Encourages Activism Beyond Hashtags and Posts

Michelle Obama's 2020 Commencement Address | Dear Class Of 2020. (Image: YouTube)

Variety

Michelle Obama kicked off her “Dear Class of 2020” graduation speech with a list of uncomfortable questions and truths.

“Over the past couple of months, our foundation has been shaken,” Mrs. Obama said. “Not just by a pandemic that stole too many of our loved ones, upended our daily lives and sent tens of millions into unemployment. But also by the rumbling of the age-old fault lines that our country was built on. The lines of race and power that are now, once again, so nakedly exposed for all of us to grapple with.”

The former First Lady opened up, revealing that she too feels overwhelmed by the current state of the world. “If any of you are scared, or confused, or angry, or just plain overwhelmed by it all, if you feel like you’re searching for a lifeline just to steady yourself, you are not alone. I am feeling all of that too. I think we all are.”

The speech continued on, pointing out that these painful issues aren’t an anomaly.

“What’s happening right now is the direct results of decades of unaddressed prejudice an inequality. The truth is, when it comes to all those tidy stories of hard work and self-determination that we like to tell ourselves about America, well, the reality is a lot more complicated than that. Because for too many people in this country, no matter how hard they work, there are structural barriers working against them that just make the road longer and rockier. And sometimes it’s almost impossible to move upward at all. Because what if you’re required to work during a pandemic, but don’t have enough protective equipment or health insurance from your employer, or paid sick leave? What is more essential: your work or your life? If you don’t feel safe driving your own car in your own neighborhood? Or going for a jog, or buying some candy at 7-11, or birdwatching? If you can’t even approach the police without fearing for your life, then how do you even begin to chart your own course?”

Instead of offering impossible answers, the former First Lady brought life lessons, instructions on how to channel this new-found focus.

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Watch: Michelle Obama’s 2020 Commencement Address | Dear Class Of 2020


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