Barack and Michelle Obama are set to give separate commencement addresses during YouTube’s live-streamed graduation ceremony, which is slated to be held on June 6 on the video platform’s Originals channel and their Learn@Home site.
Per Variety, the former first couple will take part in the “Dear Class of 2020” block of programming, which features a “festival-style lineup” with “talks on traditional graduation-day themes mixed in with music performances.” speeches and performances from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, activist Malala Yousafzai, Kelly Rowland, Kerry Washington, Alicia Keys, Zendaya, Chloe x Halle, YouTube beauty guru Jackie Aina, Lady Gaga, K-Pop group BTS and many more will take place during the stream and during the event’s afterparty.
President Obama confirmed the news on his Instagram and noted he’ll also be taking part in two more graduation exercises in addition to YouTube’s event: “Show Me Your Walk: HBCU Edition” and as the speaker for Graduate Together’s High School Commencement ceremony. Both of those events will take place on May 16.
“I’ve always loved joining commencements. The culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice,” Obama wrote in his caption. The beloved former president had been widely implored to give this year’s virtual commencement addresses. “Even if we can’t get together in person this year, Michelle and I are excited to celebrate the nationwide Class of 2020 and recognize this milestone with you and your loved ones,” he added.
Michelle echoed the sentiment with a social media post of her own, writing “I know that none of you imagined you would be closing this chapter of your life through a computer or phone screen. But I still want to make sure you still get the celebration you deserve.”
In addition to giving speeches, Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher initiative will host an hour of entertainment to kick off the festivities. Reach Higher aims to inspire underrepresented U.S. students to complete their education past high school, whether through a “professional training program, a community college, a four-year college or university, or in the military,” per a press release provided by YouTube regarding the event.
“Graduation is a tradition that students and families look forward to and with the current state of the world, YouTube is lending some inspiration in the form of a virtual commencement,” said Global Head of Original Content for YouTube, Susanne Daniels. “We hope bringing together noteworthy, influential speakers along with performances from some of their favorite artists will provide encouragement for the students who have worked so hard to get here.”