Barack Obama just delivered the high school commencement speech of the century! The former U.S. president urged students to ‘do what they think is right’ as they enter the real world.
Barack Obama, 58, shared some inspiring words on the Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 special. The former President closed the show with an epic commencement speech inspiring the leaders of tomorrow. “I couldn’t be prouder of all of you in the graduating class of 2020, as well as the teachers, and the coaches, and most of all — the parents and family — who guided you along the way,” he began. “Graduating is a big achievement in any circumstance…and as much as you love your parents, being stuck at home with them and watching Tiger King on TV is not exactly how you envisioned your senior year,” he joked, referencing Netflix’s viral documentary series.
Barack went on to reflect about his own graduation from Honolulu’s Punahou School back in 1979. “I don’t remember much of my own high school graduation. I know that not having to sit there and not listen to a commencement speaker isn’t all that bad. Mine usually go on way too long,” he added, hilariously saying that “not that many people look great in those caps, especially if you have big ears like me.”
The former President went on with three pieces of advice for graduates as they move forward, seemingly shading Donald Trump in one. “Do what you think is right. Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how a lot of little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups including some with fancy titles and important jobs still think that way, which is why things are so screwed up,” he said. “I hope you decide to ground yourself in values that last, like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others,” Barack urged the Class of 2020.
WATCH: Fmr. President Obama gives virtual commencement address to the Class of 2020 during 'Graduate Together' event. pic.twitter.com/6DVH6W2NMa
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 17, 2020
“This is your generation’s world to shape…be a part of the solution and not the problem,” he advised in the inspirational speech, reminding graduates “not to be afraid” as they step forward in the next chapter of their lives.
The right-of-passage is definitely top of mind for Barack, as he and Michelle Obama‘s gorgeous daughters Malia, 21, and Sasha, 18, have both graduated in recent years. Malia went on to study at Harvard University, while Sasha began her freshman year at University of Michigan in Aug. 2019! The 18-year-old looked so grown up in her black prom dress last year, and we can’t wait to see what both she and her sister do in the future.
The historic one-hour event — broadcast across major networks CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and various online platforms — was a collaborate effort between think-tank XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “This high school graduation season will be anything but ordinary — but that’s all the more reason why the Class of 2020 deserves extraordinary advice, heartfelt encouragement, and hard-won wisdom about facing new challenges in an uncertain world,” XQ’s co-founder and CEO Russlynn Ali said in a statement. “We are grateful to President Obama for giving this gift to our nation’s three million high school seniors as they #GraduateTogether,” he added.
In addition to inspirational speeches, the star-studded event was also full of A-List appearances, including ones by Maren Morris and Kane Brown! The nationwide celebration was the perfect way to pay tribute to the class of 2020 as they take their first steps into adult life. Graduate Together also featured celebrities like YouTubers David Dobrik and Liza Koshy, Zendaya, Yara Shahidi and more.