The Obamas Will Deliver Virtual Commencement Speeches For 2020 Graduates

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Former U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama
Mark Wilson/Getty

Michelle and Barack Obama will join YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” special

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama are coming back when we need them the most — to give commencement speeches for graduating classes over the next month with the help of YouTube.

“Over the past month, President and Mrs. Obama have received dozens of requests from around the globe to address graduating classes whose in-person commencement events have been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” a statement from their office read. “Today, the Obamas are pleased to announce that they will participate in multiple virtual commencement celebrations for students, families and educators.” Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher initiative will host a full hour of content to kick off the celebration.

YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” original event will premiere Saturday, June 6, and will include other celebrities and notable people like BTS, Lady Gaga, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Malala Yousafzai. The special will include traditional commencement speeches like one the Obama’s will give mixed in with music performances to give graduating seniors a bit of the party they will miss in person.

The Obamas shared the good news on social media, saying in part, “I know how hard the #Classof2020 has worked to make it to graduation, so @BarackObama and I want to give you the celebration you deserve.” Obama also added, “Even if we can’t get together in person this year, Michelle and I are excited to celebrate the nationwide Class of 2020 and recognize this milestone with you and your loved ones.”

“Graduation is a tradition that students and families look forward to and with the current state of the world, YouTube is lending some inspiration in the form of a virtual commencement,” said Susanne Daniels, global head of content for YouTube. “We hope bringing together noteworthy, influential speakers along with performances from some of their favorite artists will provide encouragement for the students who have worked so hard to get here.”

Former President Obama will also give an address at the “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” event on May 16 from 8-9 p.m. ET. This one-hour special hosted by XQ Institute, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation will feature appearances by LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, and others. It will appear on multiple major news networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC as well as many digital streaming services.

YouTube’s full schedule of commencement events happening over the next several weeks will be available on the Learn@Home site beginning on May 17. Graduates can also sign their name on the Dear Class of 2020 Shout Out Board.

We can’t wait to hear what they’ve got to say.

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