Oprah Winfrey delivered a rousing speech to the class of 2020 during Facebook's #Graduation2020 livestream event

By Alexia Fernández
Updated May 15, 2020 05:15 PM
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Oprah Winfrey
| Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty

Oprah Winfrey honored the class of 2020 with some words of inspiration.

In a five-minute video, the media mogul, 66, spoke directly to those graduating at home amid the coronavirus pandemic in a Facebook commencement speech, saying, “I know you may not feel like it, but you are indeed the chosen class for such a time as this, the class of 2020.”

“You’re also a united class, the pandemic class that has the entire world striving to graduate with you,” Winfrey continued. “Of course, this is not the graduation ceremony you envisioned. But even though there may not be pomp because of our circumstances, never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose and vision, passion and energy and hope.”

“Your graduation ceremony is taking place with so many luminaries celebrating you on the world’s Facebook stage and I’m just honored to join them and salute you,” she said.

Winfrey called upon graduates to lead the way to a more innovative future, asking them, “Can you use this disorder that COVID-19 has wrought? Can you greet it as an uninvited guest that’s come into our midst to reorder our way of being?”

“Can you, the class of 2020, show us not how to put the pieces back together again, but how to create and more new and more evolved normal?” she continued. “A world more just, kind, beautiful, tender, luminous, creative, whole. This moment is your invitation to use your education to begin to heal our afflictions by applying the best of what you’ve learned in your head and what you’ve felt in your heart.”

The former host of The Oprah Winfrey Show likened human beings as “a global body” with “every soul” a “cell in that body.”

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“The deepest self-care is at once caring for the human family. And we see this so clearly with essential workers,” she said. “Look who turns out to be essential: teachers, your teachers, healthcare workers, the people stocking grocery shelves, the cashiers, truck drivers, food providers, those who are caring for your grandparents, those who are cleaning where we work and shop and carry out our daily lives.”

The TV personality added, “We are all here because they, at great and profound risk, are still providing their essential service.”

Winfrey asked the graduating class what their essential service would be, saying, “What really matters to you? The fact that you’re alive means you’ve been given a reprieve to think deeply about that question. How will you use what matters in service to yourself, your community and the world?”

“My hope is that you will harness your education, your creativity and your valor, your voice, your vote reflecting on all that you’ve witnessed and hungered for, all that you know to be true and use it to create more equity, more justice and more joy in the world,” she said, concluding with, “To be the class that commenced a new way forward. The class of 2020. Bravo.”

With the coronavirus shutting down schools across the country for the foreseeable future, Facebook has stepped forward to provide an online graduation event, streaming Friday, that will see famous faces such as Winfrey, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Garner. The hours-long streaming event will also include words of wisdom from stars like Garner, Simone Biles, Awkwafina and Lil Nas X.

Oprah, Lil Nas X, Cardi B and Miley Cyrus
| Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage; Phillip Faraone/Getty; Dia Dipasupil/Getty; Steve Granitz/WireImage

Cyrus will be on hand as well to perform her hit 2009 song “The Climb,” an ode to strength and perseverance in times of struggle.

The event will broadcast on Facebook Watch, and individual segments from stars will be posted to Instagram’s official Instagram account, as well as on the celebrities’ personal accounts.

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