The Obamas, Oprah Winfrey set to Headline Big 2020 Virtual Commencement Events 




If the graduating classes of 2020 were feeling a bit slighted due to the cancellation of traditional commencement events, a few streaming giants are stepping in for the save. And they’re bringing some heavy hitters with them. According to Deadline, President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey will each headline virtual commencement events on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. 

Here are the details:

YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 

This multi-hour celebration for graduates worldwide is set to premier Saturday, June 6 on YouTube, with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama giving commencement speeches. Things will kick off with a full hour of content by Michelle Obama’s Higher Reach Initiative.

Additional commencement speakers will include artists BTS and Lady Gaga, CEO of Alphabet and Google Sundar Pichai, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai.

There will also be celebrity appearances by Zendaya, Kelly Rowland, Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington, Chloe x Halle, YouTube creators Jackie Aina, AsapSCIENCE, Dude Perfect, Mr. Kate, And The Try Guys.   

Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Content for YouTube gave a statement, saying, “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. 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.”

The full schedule for “Dear Class of 2020” will be available on the Learn@Home YouTube site on May 17. And the event can be streamed on Learn@Home site in addition to the YouTube Originals channel.

Facebook/Instagram’s #Graduation2020 

The multi-hour event will stream on both platforms on Friday, May 15 at 2PM ET. Oprah Winfrey will deliver the commencement speech, with other speakers including  Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X, Simone Biles. Miley Cyrus will also be performing her 2009 hit song, “The Climb.”

#Graduation2020 will be broadcast on Facebook Watch and available at Individual segments will be posted to the @instagram account on Instagram, as well as other contributors’ social media accounts.

These two events are among the largest versions of what’s been a trend this spring. Amid the changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, celebrities have been posting their commencement speeches and well-wishes online. 

Tom Hanks – fully recovered from Covid-19, along with his wife – recently posted a message for the graduating class of Ohio’s Wright State University, encouraging them to embrace the responsibility of “restarting our normalcy.”

Other public figures and companies are joining in with announcements of their alternative commencement plans. It’s sure to be a different, but no-less big graduation season. 

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