Donovan Livingston is a proud member of Harvard’s Class of 2016. And during his graduation, he gave a speech that left those in the audience and on social media, for lack of a better word, speechless.
In his poem, “Lift Off,” Livingston poetically gave a play-by-play of his educational history and the systematic racism that still exists in education.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen more dividing and conquering
In this order of operations—a heinous miscalculation of reality.
For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time.
How many times must we be made to feel like quotas—
Like tokens in coined phrases?—
There are days I feel like one, like only—
A lonely blossom in a briar patch of broken promises.
But I’ve always been a thorn in the side of injustice.
And he continued with:
At the core, none of us were meant to be common.
We were born to be comets,
Darting across space and time—
Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.
A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened here—
An indelible impact that shook up the world.
Are we not astronomers—looking for the next shooting star?
I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships—
Tribulations into telescopes,
So a child can see their potential from right where they stand.
An injustice is telling them they are stars
Without acknowledging night that surrounds them.
Injustice is telling them education is the key
While you continue to change the locks.
So far the video has garnered over a million views, and Livingston expressed what it all meant to him on Twitter:
He’s a shining star!