Obama to deliver televised commencement speech for entire class of 2020

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FILE – In a Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019 file photo, former President Barack Obama speaks during the Obama Foundation Summit at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Former President Barack Obama says addressing global economic inequality is key to fighting climate change. Obama spoke Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 at the sustainable building conference Greenbuild in Atlanta.(Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

NBCDFW — Former President Barack Obama is joining an all-star lineup of celebrities honoring the high school class of 2020, which has had its graduation season upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Obama will deliver the commencement address for America’s three million seniors during a televised event hosted by The LeBron James Family Foundation, XQ Institute and The Entertainment Industry Foundation.

The one-hour special, “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” will air simultaneously on NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox on May 16 at 8 p.m. EDT. The event will pay tribute to high schoolers graduating this year and will include appearances by James, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Bad Bunny, Yara Shahidi, Ben Platt, Lena Waithe and H.E.R.

“This high school graduation season will be anything but ordinary—but that’s all the more reason why the Class of 2020 deserves extraordinary advice, heartfelt encouragement, and hard-won wisdom about facing new challenges in an uncertain world,” said XQ Institute CEO Russlynn Ali. “We are grateful to President Obama for giving this gift to our nation’s three million high school seniors as they #GraduateTogether.”

Obama will be joined by several high school seniors from Chicago Public Schools and members of the Obama Youth Jobs Corps. who are part of the Obama Foundation’s work to “inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world.”

“Graduate Together” was curated by high school students and educators. It will feature commencement speeches, performances and more. It will also air on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Complex Networks, PeopleTV and other digital platforms.

Other participants in the event include Megan Rapinoe, YBN Cordae, Chika, Charli D’Amelio, Dixie D’Amelio, Loren Gray, Brandan “Bmike” Odums, Henry Platt and Jonah Platt.

The former president will also join former first lady Michelle Obama to deliver a virtual commencement speech on June 6 for YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” event.

The celebration honoring high school and college seniors will include appearances by Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Kerry Washington, Chloe x Halle, Zendaya, Lady Gaga, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai, among others. BTS and others will perform at a virtual graduation night afterparty.

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