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Group of graduates throwing mortar boards in air

Thomas Barwick

Yesterday, #Youtube hosted an iconic virtual ceremony with tons of big name celebrities to celebrate the graduating class of 2020. A handful of celebrities focused on praising young activists for their role in pushing for change during this time.

#Lizzo opened the ceremony with a beautiful flute rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance” with images from the Black Lives Matter protests in the background. Following her performance, #AliciaKeys spoke in her soft monotone voice expressing her love for the younger generation, calling them “inspiring” and asking that everyone “empathize with those who seem different on the surface”.

Our forever President and First Lady #Barack and #MichelleObama appeared together in a video from home and congratulated students on not just completing their academic journey, but doing so while figuring out how to support their teachers, friends and family through this pandemic. “Today is the culmination of a long journey. Just as you were rounding the final turn, the world threw a pandemic your way. That’s a lot to ask of anybody, but despite all that, here you are” said Barack during opening statement. Michelle also sharing some beautiful words of encouragement and added “Not only can you do better than those who came before you, but you will”.

The Queen #Bey entered the room and praised young people for their role in raising their voices in response to #GeorgeFloyd’s death and called for more black female voices in the music industry. “You have arrived here in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic and worldwide expression of outrage at the senseless killing of yet another unarmed black human being. And you still made it” #Beyonce also added “We’ve seen that our collective hearts, when put to positive action can start the wheels of change”. Bey told grades that CHANGE STARTS WITH YOU.

We also heard similar speeches from icons like #LadyGaga, whose voice was trembling as she expressed her outrage for racism. There were also appearances from #CondoleeaRice , #JennaBush , Star Wars actors #MarkHamill and #DaisyRidley. We heard a beautiful tribute to the teachers of this country from #MariahCarey as they performed ‘Hero’. She delivered a heartwarming message for teachers stating they “rose to the occasion and helped these students reach the finish line”. At the end, she serenaded us all with her classic hit ‘Always Be My Baby’ and that concluded the show.

We are so pleased with this celebration as we know graduation is so monumental for many students. It is beautiful that we can find a light somewhere within a world of darkness. Thank you #Youtube for changing the game!