The Obamas to Headline Virtual Graduation Ceremony


YouTube is pumping up 2020 virtual pomp-and-circumstance circuit with a video graduation ceremony, including commencement addresses delivered by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” original special will feature other celebs and notable names including BTSLady Gaga and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The festival-style lineup will feature talks on traditional graduation-day themes mixed in with music performances.

Headlining “Dear Class of 2020” are President Obama and Michelle Obama, who will each deliver individual commencement speeches — and a joint message — to graduates. Additionally, Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher initiative will host a full hour of content to kick off the celebration.

Commencement speakers include BTS, Lady Gaga, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai. BTS and others will perform at a virtual grad night after-party.

“Dear Class of 2020” also will include special appearances by Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Kerry Washington, Chloe x Halle, Zendaya, and YouTube creators Jackie Aina, AsapSCIENCE, Dude Perfect, Mr. Kate, and The Try Guys.

YouTube is partnering with Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative, Born This Way Foundation, Malala Fund, NBC’s “Today,” and Ideas United to showcase student stories and feature graduates around the world, including a crowd-sourced commencement speech.

“Graduation is a tradition that students and families look forward to and with the current state of the world, YouTube is lending some inspiration in the form of a virtual commencement,” said Susanne Daniels, global head of content for YouTube. “We hope bringing together noteworthy, influential speakers along with performances from some of their favorite artists will provide encouragement for the students who have worked so hard to get here.”

Separately, President Obama also is set to deliver a commencement message during “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” a one-hour multimedia event on May 16 hosted by XQ Institute, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The event will feature appearances by LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R., Ben Platt and others. It’s set to be simulcast on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC as well as via 20-plus other broadcast and digital streaming partners on May 16, from 8-9 p.m. ET.


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