Duchess and current Los Angeles resident Meghan Markle had likely been tapped to give the graduation speech for the class of 2020 at her former high school, the Immaculate Heart High School, a private, all-girls Catholic school for girls for months. But when she spoke at their graduation on Wednesday evening, she spoke about current events — not just the typical tales of growing up to do better things or moving on to greener pastures.
Instead, Markle began addressing the class and quickly began to speak on the protests against police violence that have erupted around the country and, indeed, the world, as a result of the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. In the video, she talked about being a young kid when the Rodney King riots gripped Los Angeles in 1992, after a jury acquitted four Los Angeles Police officers in the beating of Rodney King, an event that, like George Floyd’s murder, had also been videotaped and broadcast on the news.
“I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings… I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles. I remember pulling up the house and seeing the tree that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”
Given that those events occurred decades ago, Markle largely spoke to a class that she had hoped as a kid wouldn’t have to see the same thing happen again and again. She implored them to use their voices to change the world.
“You’re going to use your voice in a stronger way than you have ever been able to because most of you are 18 – or you’re turning 18 — so you’re going to vote. You’re going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do. You’re ready. We need you and you’re prepared.”