Hosted by Lebron James, along with a collection of actors, musicians and other influencers, the ‘Graduate Together’ special is a virtual graduation ceremony for the more than 3 million high school seniors in the U.S.
Schools may be closed but the graduating class of 2020 deserves their recognition! Join a slew of leaders, entertainers, and educators - including Former President Barack Obama and LeBron James - as they pay their respects in #GraduateTogether: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 on Saturday, May 16 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access. Air Date: May 12, 2020
Former President Barack Obama delivered a virtual commencement address on Saturday, urging the tens of thousands of graduates from historically black colleges and universities to "seize the initiative" amid what he described as a lack of leadership from leaders in the United States to the coronavirus pandemic.
"More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing," Obama said in remarks that were streamed online. "A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge. If the world's gonna be better, it's going to be up to you."
Obama's remarks come as the virus has killed more than 88,000 Americans and crippled the nation's economy. He delivered them as part of "Show Me Your Walk HBCU Edition," a virtual commencement hosted Saturday by the comedian Kevin Hart. The event included a stream of prominent black athletes, politicians and entertainers — many of whom attended HBCUs themselves.
While Obama's remarks were billed as a sendoff for graduating seniors — forced by the pandemic to leave campuses across the country and unable to participate in more traditional commencement ceremonies — Obama also appeared to bring the graduates together around a set of shared values.
The former president made note of the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on black communities. Black Americans account for a disproportionate number of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. There have also been stark racial disparities in the economic impact of the outbreak.
Addressing these disparities, Obama said that coronavirus "spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country."
He also made reference to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man who was fatally shot in Georgia in February, saying there were disparities evident not just in public health, but "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."
Former President Barack Obama delivered two online commencement addresses on Saturday that did more than offer words of inspiration for the graduates -- he reminded us of what a US President should sound like.
In these two speeches -- one to those graduating from high schools and the other to those graduating from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) -- he urged people to be selfless, to work together to help those in need and to reject divisiveness. What a contrast to Donald Trump's almost daily message of pitting Americans against each other, his lack of empathy and his trademark philosophy of "It's all about me."
Comparing Obama and Trump, though, is unfair on some level. Obama is everything Trump will never be: Compassionate, thoughtful, intellectually curious, honest and highly intelligent. Obama's commencement speeches simply reminded of us that very fact.
For starters, Obama didn't make his addresses about himself or his own grievances; his focus was on those graduating. What a contrast to Trump's 2017 commencement address to the US Coast Guard Academy where he told the graduates, "Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history -- and I say this with great surety -- has been treated worse or more unfairly." To Trump, every day -- even your graduation day -- is about Trump.