Barack and Michelle Obama Offer Words of Hope to Class of 2020: “Hold Your Heads High”

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Barack and Michelle Obama are imparting some words of wisdom to the class of 2020. On Sunday, the former president and first lady spoke at YouTube’s virtual graduation ceremony, first delivering a statement together before sharing individual messages. “We want you to know that all the work you put in to get your education is still one of the best investments you can make,” Barack said alongside Michelle. “We’ve seen it for decades. The more education you have, the better you and your families are likely to fare.” Michelle then encouraged graduates to “do a little dance,” prompting a sweet laugh from Barack.

In an individual speech, Michelle spoke about social activism and translating sentiment into productive change. “Graduates, anger is a powerful force,” the Becoming author said. “It can be a useful force, but left on its own, it will only corrode and destroy and sow chaos on the inside and out. But when anger is focussed, when it’s channelled into something more, oh, that is the stuff that changes history.”

The virtual gathering was held in partnership with YouTube, Michelle’s Reach Higher Initiative, the Born This Way Foundation, the Malala Fund, NBC’s Today show, and Ideas United. Other celebrities who took part in the event included Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and Alicia Keys. Ahead, watch Michelle and Barack’s full speeches!


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