Barack and Michelle Obama to give virtual commencement for Class of 2020

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.


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To the #Classof2020, I know how hard you all have worked to make it to graduation. You’ve put in long hours studying. You’ve thrown yourself into extracurricular activities and after-school jobs. And you’ve done everything you can to be there for your friends through it all. Some of you will be the first in your families to graduate from high school or college, making this occasion all the more special. And I know that none of you imagined you would be closing this chapter of your life through a computer or phone screen. But I still want to make sure you still get the celebration you deserve. That’s why, through my @reachhigher Initiative, I’m working with @youtube Originals to host a special virtual graduation for you on June 6th. Whether you’re graduating from high school, college, or any other kind of school––we want you, your family, and all of your loved ones to be a part of this celebration. And we want to do this right for all of you, so I’ll be inviting some very special guests—including @BarackObama—to help ring in this momentous day. RSVP here and then tune in on June 6th at #ReachHigher

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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.