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The class of 2020 is graduating during a global pandemic, which means they don’t get to enjoy all the fun things you’re supposed to do when it’s your senior spring. High school grads don’t get a prom, a senior week, or a post-grad celebration organized by the PTA where you win a giant unnecessary TV for your dorm room. College grads don’t get to go out for one last night in their college towns or take cheesy photos in their caps and gowns with their parents as hundreds of other proud families mill about. But do you know what 2020 grads do get? Speeches from the Obamas.
Ahead of MTV’s “Proma-thon” event on Friday night, Michelle Obama addressed the high school seniors who would have been attending their final proms this year.
“Hey Class of 2020!,” she began. “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. You’re preserving 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. That’s why all of us at “When We All Vote and MTV wanted to celebrate you. So tonight, I just want you to breathe deep, dance your heart out, and enjoy this Proma-thon. You’ve earned it. And as always, if you know anyone who still isn’t registered to vote, just tell them to text PROM, P-R-O-M to 5-6-0-0-5. It might be the most important thing you can do right now. You’ve accomplished so much this year in the face of so much, and I know it’s just the beginning. So have a great time tonight, everybody. Love you all.”
Last weekend, it was Barack Obama who comforted this year’s high school and college seniors. Last Saturday afternoon, the former president addressed students from historically black college and universities (HBCUs). He reminded the graduates of their strength as they face hardships, as well as the injustices that the black community has come up against before and during this pandemic:
“And let’s be honest: A disease like this just spotlights the inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this county. We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning. Injustice like this isn’t new. What is new is that so much of your generation has woken up to the fact that the status quo needs fixing.”
That night, Obama addressed the high school seniors in America as he gave a separate address at the “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 ” special.
“So, if the world’s gonna get better, it’s gonna be up to you,” he said, in part. “That realization may be kind of intimidating, but I hope it’s also inspiring. With all the challenges this country faces right now, nobody can tell you, ‘No, you’re too young to understand’ or ‘This is how it’s always been done.’ Because with so much uncertainty, with everything suddenly up for grabs, this is your generation’s world to shape.”
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