Michelle Obama is here to lift the spirits of graduating students around the nation with an inspiring message.
On Friday, the former first lady, 56, helped to celebrate the class of 2020 during MTV’s Prom-Athon, a virtual dance party for seniors who could not attend their traditional prom due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event was put on by MTV and When We All Vote, a nonprofit co-chaired by Mrs. Obama aimed to raise voter participation, and featured special appearances and performances to give graduates a prom night they would always remember.
“Hey Class of 2020! Look, I know that none of you planned on missing out on so many senior year milestones, things like sports tournaments, or prom nights, but I am so proud of what I’ve seen from you all,” the mother of two began her speech.
“You’re persevering through everything you’re facing and look, there is no playbook for any of this, and yet you’ve shown creativity and resilience far beyond your years,” Mrs. Obama continued.
“That’s why all of us at When We All Vote and MTV, wanted to celebrate you,” she smiled, urging the graduating class to “breathe deep, dance your heart out and enjoy this Prom-athon.”
The Becoming author went on to encourage viewers to register to vote and to reach out to others who might still need to register themselves. “You’ve earned it and, as always, if you know anyone who is not registered to vote, just tell them to text PROM to 56005. It might be the most important thing you do right now,” she said.
“You’ve accomplished so much this year in the face of so much and I know it’s just the beginning,” Mrs. Obama added. “So have a great time tonight everybody, love you all.”
Her message comes nearly a week after her husband Barack Obama offered his thoughts to the class of 2020 on how the future generation can rise above the world’s current challenges.
While giving a remote commencement speech during Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 special last weekend, Obama, 58, acknowledged that this wasn’t the senior year many had “looked forward to” for years.
“Now I’ll be honest with you: The disappointments of missing a live graduation — those will pass pretty quick,” he added, before addressing some of the more serious repercussions. “If you’d planned on going away for college, getting dropped off at campus in the fall, that’s no longer a given. If you were planning to work while going to school, finding that first job is going to be tougher.”
Although these challenging circumstances mean that graduates will “have to grow up faster than some generations,” with that responsibility will come the chance to start creating meaningful change, the former president said.
“This pandemic has shaken up the status quo and laid bare a lot of our country’s deep-seated problems — from massive economic inequality to ongoing racial disparities to a lack of basic healthcare for people who need it. It’s woken a lot of young people up to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t work,” he continued, before appearing to make a subtle dig at President Donald Trump, whose coronavirus response Obama has harshly criticized before.
“So, if the world’s going to get better, it going to be up to you. That realization may be kind of intimidating. But I hope it’s also inspiring,” he continued. “Do what you think is right. Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how 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. I hope that instead, you decide to ground yourself in values that last, like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others.”
“In so many ways, you’ve already started to lead,” he said. “Congratulations, Class of 2020. Keep making us proud.”
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