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Sat May 16, 2020, 08:20 PM

In Case You Missed It -- Graduate Together 2020

President Obama's Commencement Address:

Hi, everybody. Aniyah, thank you for that beautiful introduction. I could not be prouder of everything youíve done in your time with the Obama Foundation.

And of course, I couldnít be prouder of all of you in the graduating Class of 2020 ó as well as the teachers, and the coaches, and most of all, parents and family who guided have you along the way.

Now graduating is a big achievement under any circumstances. Some of you have had to overcome serious obstacles along the way, whether it was an illness, or a parent losing a job, or living in a neighborhood where people too often count you out. Along with the usual challenges of growing up, all of you have had to deal with the added pressures of social media, reports of school shootings, and the specter of climate change. And then, just as youíre about to celebrate having made it through, just as youíve been looking forward to proms and senior nights, graduation ceremonies ó and, letís face it, a whole bunch of parties ó the world is turned upside down by a global pandemic. And as much as Iím sure you love your parents, Iíll bet that being stuck at home with them and playing board games or watching Tiger King on TV is not exactly how you envisioned the last few months of your senior year.

Now Iíll be honest with you ó the disappointments of missing a live graduation ó those will pass pretty quick. I donít remember much from my own high school graduation. I know that not having to sit there and listen to a commencement speaker isnít all that bad ó mine usually go on way too long. Also, not that many people look great in those caps, especially if you have big ears like me. And youíll have plenty of time to catch up with your friends once the immediate public health crisis is over.

Itís also pulled the curtain back on another hard truth, something that we all have to eventually accept once our childhood comes to an end. All those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? Turns out that they donít have all the answers. A lot of them arenít even asking the right questions. So, if the worldís going to get better, it going to be up to you.

That realization may be kind of intimidating. But I hope itís also inspiring. With all the challenges this country faces right now, nobody can tell you ďno, youíre too young to understandĒ or ďthis is how itís always been done.Ē Because with so much uncertainty, with everything suddenly up for grabs, this is your generationís world to shape.
Since Iím one of the old guys, I wonít tell you what to do with this power that rests in your hands. But Iíll leave you with three quick pieces of advice.

First, donít be afraid. Americaís gone through tough times before ó slavery, civil war, famine, disease, the Great Depression and 9/11. And each time we came out stronger, usually because a new generation, young people like you, learned from past mistakes and figured out how to make things better.

Second, do what you think is right. Doing what feels good, whatís convenient, whatís easy ó thatís how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way ó which is why things are so screwed up.

I hope that instead, you decide to ground yourself in values that last, like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others. You wonít get it right every time, youíll make mistakes like we all do. But if you listen to the truth thatís inside yourself, even when itís hard, even when its inconvenient, people will notice. Theyíll gravitate towards you. And youíll be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

And finally, build a community. No one does big things by themselves. Right now, when people are scared, itís easy to be cynical and say let me just look out for myself, or my family, or people who look or think or pray like me. But if weíre going to get through these difficult times; if weíre going to create a world where everybody has the opportunity to find a job, and afford college; if weíre going to save the environment and defeat future pandemics, then weíre going to have to do it together. So be alive to one anotherís struggles. Stand up for one anotherís rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us ó sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed ó and set the world on a different path.

When you need help, Michelle and I have made it the mission of our Foundation to give young people like you the skills and support to lead in your own communities, and to connect you with other young leaders around the country and around the globe.

But the truth is that you donít need us to tell you what to do.

Because in so many ways, youíve already started to lead.

Congratulations, Class of 2020. Keep making us proud.

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Reply In Case You Missed It -- Graduate Together 2020 (Original post)
ancianita May 2020 OP
efhmc May 2020 #1
ancianita May 2020 #2
BarbD May 2020 #3

Response to ancianita (Original post)

Sat May 16, 2020, 08:41 PM

1. Thank you.

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Response to efhmc (Reply #1)

Sat May 16, 2020, 08:42 PM

2. ...

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Response to ancianita (Original post)

Sat May 16, 2020, 10:22 PM

3. Thanks. That was special! n/t

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