Coronavirus

Barack Obama will give a televised commencement speech to graduating high school seniors

"Even if we can’t get together in person this year, Michelle and I are excited to celebrate."

Former President Barack Obama will give a commencement speech to graduating high school seniors on a televised event. Charles Rex Arbogast/AP File Photo

With high schools across the United States opting for modified graduation ceremonies due to COVID-19, former President Barack Obama will be there to deliver a commencement speech to millions of students.

On TV and over the internet, of course.

In an hourlong televised event airing May 16, Obama will congratulate graduating high school seniors and “reflect” on the COVID-19 pandemic. The special, titled Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, will air on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC at 8 p.m. EST. It will be streamed on multiple platforms, too.

Notable celebrities will also join in, including Lakers’ forward LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, The Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R., and Ben Platt. The event will be hosted by the LeBron James Family Foundation, as well as the XQ Institute and Entertainment Industry Foundation.

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Obama will also participate in an event for HBCU institutions called Show Me Your Walk at 2 p.m. on the same day. On June 6, he will give a Dear Class of 2020 Commencement Address at 3 p.m. EST via YouTube.

“I’ve always loved joining commencements — the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice,” Obama tweeted. “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.”

The coronavirus has taken an emotional toll on many students who have missed out on rites of passage like prom, finals, and graduation ceremonies. Obama’s speeches will come at a celebratory time that has otherwise been upended by the public health crisis.

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For his high school graduation address, the former president will also be joined by high school students from the Obama Foundation, seniors who attend Chicago Public schools, and those who are a part of the Obama Youth Job Corps.

James posted the event to Instagram, sending his own message to high school seniors.

“You all worked so hard the past four years and deserve the best commencement we can bring to you and your family. 🙏🏾,” he wrote in the caption.

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