As the nation continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd, Alicia Keys shared encouraging words with graduating students while opening YouTube Originals’ Dear Class of 2020 virtual commencement Sunday.
“I know right now it might not feel like there’s a lot to celebrate, and that’s OK. It’s OK to not be OK right now. I know so many people are not thinking about your time at school,” Keys said, before addressing the ongoing nationwide protests.
Keys praised any students who have worked on “making sure your voices are heard” amid a time when “the world feels broken. … You are showing that your generation is going to heal us. I promise to always be by your side, no matter where the fight for justice takes us next.
“The pain is not new, but it feels different. For the first time, no matter what we look like or where we’re from, we can see so clearly what injustice looks like and now we can all choose how to respond. Change only happens when we educate ourselves and hold each other accountable and make sure we register to vote,” Keys said.
Keys then reminded graduating students that in order to ensure change happens, always “recognize our biases” and “empathize with those that seem different on the surface. … Thank you for being the inspiration for the world to see our collective humanity. I hope you can laugh, smile and allow yourself to reflect on all your accomplishments.
“There’s nothing and no one that can stop you from changing the world. I see you. You’re unstoppable,” the singer said.
Keys was part of the star-studded lineup for YouTube’s virtual commencement Dear Class of 2020, headlined by former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.
During the multi-hour live-streamed event, inspirational leaders, stars and creators joined the celebration including Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Shonda Rhimes, Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Rowland, Kevin Durant, Lady Gaga, Finneas, Bill and Melinda Gates, Alicia Keys, Zendaya and more.
See Keys full speech below.