Oprah Winfrey calls on class of 2020 to help 'heal our afflictions' in virtual commencement address

Brendan Morrow

With in-person graduation events called off amid the coronavirus pandemic, Oprah Winfrey spoke to the class of 2020 remotely on Friday, calling on this "pandemic class" to help show us the way forward.

Winfrey spoke as part of a virtual graduation event held by Facebook, telling graduates that "never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose, vision, passion, and energy, and hope."

The coronavirus pandemic, Winfrey said, has "illuminated the vast systemic inequities that have defined life for too many for too long," asking 2020 graduates to "show us not how to put the pieces back together again, but how to create a new and more evolved normal."

She added, "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 felt in your heart." Praising essential workers, Oprah additionally asked graduates, "What will your essential service be?"

This was one of numerous virtual graduation events that have been announced in recent weeks, including some that will feature former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama. Kristen Bell, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and more participated in the Friday event as well, with Bell perhaps summing things up best when she told graduates, "Let's cut to the chase: This blows."

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