Schools across the world have cancelled graduation ceremonies due to safety concerns amid the Coronavirus pandemic, but on Sunday, June 7, celebrities and public figures banded together for a YouTube Original commencement special.
During the prerecorded event, ‘Dear Class of 2020,’ graduates could connect with up to 99 fellow classmates to experience the virtual ceremony, which featured speeches by the likes of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, BTS, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and more.
The commencement was kicked off by none other than Lizzo, with a little help from the New York Philharmonic orchestra. Lizzo fronted the group on flute as they performed the classic graduation walking march, which was decorated by a collage of photos showing young graduates protesting as part of the Black Lives Matter movement while dressed in their caps and gowns.
The first speaker of the event was Alicia Keys who delivered a heartfelt and optimistic speech to students everywhere.
“Dear Class of 2020, congratulations! You’ve accomplished something remarkable,” Keys began. “But let’s be honest, it’s been a hard week, and a hard month and a hard year. Right now, it may not feel like there’s much to celebrate, and that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay right now.”
She continued, addressing the state of civil unrest in America and the protests against racial injustice worldwide.
“I know so many of you are not thinking about your time at school, you’re thinking about what’s happening right now in the present,” she said. “You’re thinking about marching and protesting and making sure your voices are heard in a time where we cannot be silent. And I feel you, so much. The world feels broken right now. It is broken right now in so many ways, but you’re taking your heartbreak and your outrage and you’re putting it into action and you are showing that your generation is the one that’s gonna heal this. And I promise to always be by your side no matter where the fight for justice takes us next.”