Barack Obama Encourages Students to Stay Strong in Commencement Speech: “Don't Be Afraid”

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Congratulations, class of 2020! On Saturday, Barack Obama honored high school seniors everywhere during the Graduate Together special. The former president appeared on screen to commend students for their accomplishments and offer some words of encouragement. “First, don’t be afraid,” he said. “America’s gone through tough times before – slavery, civil war, famine, disease, the Great Depression, and 9/11. And each time we came out stronger, usually because a new generation, young people like you, learned from past mistakes and figured out how to make things better.” He then gave students another piece of advice. “Second, do what you think is right.” And in true Barack fashion, he ended on a heartwarming note, telling the honorees to “build a community,” stand up for one another’s rights, and keep making him and Michelle proud.

The virtual gathering – which was hosted by a coalition of partners, including The LeBron James Family Foundation – took place in lieu of traditional graduations amid coronavirus concerns. Other celebrities who participated include Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, and Yara Shahidi. There were also power-packed performances by the Jonas Brothers and Karol G, Dua Lipa, and more. Watch Barack’s full speech ahead!

Related: 25 Michelle Obama Quotes to Make You Feel Powerful, Motivated, and Ready to Conquer

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