Barack Obama to deliver online national commencement address

President Barack Obama speaks after receiving an honorary doctorate of law during the 250th anniversary commencement ceremony at Rutgers University on May 15, 2016, in New Brunswick, N.J. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

This year due to high school and college graduation ceremonies around the country being canceled because of Covid-19, commencement ceremonies, a long cherished rites of passage celebrations signaling the beginning of a new chapter of life, have taken on a new normal. With no commencement speakers, this year former president Barack Obama is among the prominent figures who have stepped in to fill that void and will be delivering virtual commencement addresses this month and next.

Beginning this Saturday, the former president will give two such addresses. One will be delivered as part of Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition, a two-hour livestreaming event for historically black colleges and universities. It will begin at 2 p.m. ET on the Chase YouTube channel as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Other celebrity appearances by Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Chris Paul, Debbie Allen, and Vivica Fox, among others, as well as musical performances by Anthony Hamilton, Wyclef Jean, Omari Hardwick, and a drumline mash-up featuring Doug E. Fresh.

Later on that same day, Obama is set to deliver a commencement message during Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, a one-hour multimedia event hosted by XQ Institute, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The event will feature appearances by LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R., Ben Platt and others. Itโ€™s set to be simulcast, starting at 8 p.m., on ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC as well as via 20-plus other broadcast and digital streaming partners.

And there will more to come in this virtual commencement space.

On May 31, Teen Vogue will bring together a lineup of prominent women that includes Stacey Abrams, Anna Wintour, Jameela Jamil, Tracee Ellis Ross, Aly Raisman, and Noor Tagouri for a YouTube graduation event. Teen Vogue is also inviting graduating students to submit two-minute speeches, and two winners will speak during the livestream. (The magazine is also putting on a virtual prom featuring JoJo, Chloe x Halle, Beanie Feldstein, Becky G, Ava Max, and others this Saturday at 8 p.m.)

Obama will return to the commencement-speech circuit on June 12, this time along with former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as Lady Gaga, BTS, Condoleezza Rice, Malala Yousafzai, Kerry Washington, Alicia Keys, Zendaya, and others. The YouTube event Dear Class of 2020 will start at 3 p.m. and will be followed by a virtual after-party headlined by BTS.

How exciting! One thing’s for sure, 2020 graduation ceremonies will be one for the history books.

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