Former President Barack Obama took members of the Class of 2020 up on their offer. He and former First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver virtual commencement speeches for students, most of whom won’t have in-person graduation ceremonies because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • The Obamas will participate in a YouTube special on June 6, 2020, called Dear Class of 2020, a virtual commencement celebration for graduates from high school, university or “any other kind of school,” Michelle Obama tweeted Tuesday.
  • The special will also feature appearances by celebrities like BTS and Lady Gaga, along with former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Alphabet CEO Sundar Piachi, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and activist Malala Yousafzai.
  • Barack is also slated to give a streamed commencement speech for graduates from historically black colleges and universities and on a television special for high school grads that will air on major networks and online, both on May 16, 2020.
  • The announcement came after a ground swell of requests from graduating seniors over the past few weeks for Barack to give a national commencement speech for students who had their ceremonies canceled or postponed out of fear of the coronavirus.
  • Many schools have turned to virtual commencement ceremonies, with one university in Japan even having graduates walk across the stage using robot avatars.


Last month, the hashtag #ObamaCommencement2020 gained traction on social media after California high school senior Lincoln Debenham tweeted Barack and asked him to consider giving a national commencement speech. Debenham told Barack it would give graduating seniors “great comfort” to hear his voice, during a time when many students have been “saddened” by missing out on milestones like prom and graduation.