On June 3rd, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and a successful actress, spoke in a moving graduation speech to her former Los Angeles high school, Immaculate Heart. In her speech, she responds to the murder of George Floyd alongside the protests that followed immediately afterwards. Although the Royal Family by tradition does not comment on political issues, Meghan and Prince Harry stepped down from their royals roles this year and relocated to the United States. While she initially planned on speaking to the graduating class of women, her point of view switched after the recent devastating events.
Worried that she might say something that would get people angered, she realized that saying nothing would simply be complicit because “George Floyd's life mattered, and Breonna Taylor's life mattered, and Philando Castile's life mattered, and Tamir Rice's life mattered, and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we don't know." She discusses her own time at the school mentioning how one of her teachers told her to “put others’ needs above your own fears.” And right now, this statement could not be more true.
We are living in a moment in history filled with protests on the basis of equality. It is necessary to remember that these protests are built on the foundation of creating this equality. Fear only causes more destruction. We must put our fear behind us and fight so that All Lives can truly be equal. Meghan points out that her teacher’s quote has stuck with her, her entire life but especially in this past week more than ever before.
“I’m sorry...”she says, apologizing to this generation of young women that racism is still extremely present. She reminisced about her youth in 1992 when she saw the L.A. riots, around when she was 11 or 12, also brought about by the extreme and brutal racism. Watching her speech, rather than reading a monologue of it, I could see how upset the topic made her, pausing after every sentence, making sure not to rush any points. Her powerful message shone with each word. She reflected upon the intricate moments of the previous riots, from the curfews, to the looting, to the ash falling from the sky… “Those memories don’t go away.”
She seems almost flabbergasted that these seniors, who are all about 17 or 18 years old, must go through the same thing almost 30 years later.
While she recognizes the violence and trauma of that time, she also remembers how people came together in 1992. This mirrors today’s protests, which Meghan highlights. People are standing in solidarity and communities are coming together like seemingly never before.
“You are going to be part of this movement.” Meghan makes it a point to note how this might not be the ending that most people wanted, but in fact the beginning of channeling the work that they, the seniors, have put in, “a part of rebuilding” as she calls it.
This moment in the speech specifically stood out to me, as a now-graduated college senior. Yes, this is certainly not how I wanted college to end, but I will use everything I have learned, the voice I harness to speak out against the evils of the world. Meghan is right, we need to “rebuild, and rebuild, and rebuild, until it is rebuilt.” Racism in this country will not stop until we rebuild from the ground up.
She ends by stating “you are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with passion, you are going to use your voice. You are 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 going to turn 18, so you're going to vote. You are going to have empathy for those who don't see the world through the same lens that you do, because with as diverse, and vibrant, and open-minded… you are equipped, you are ready, we need you and you are prepared.” The new age of voters and adults have reached a point where they can change the world.
Meghan’s speech gives a new hope to this rising generation, a generation who isn’t afraid to fight for what they believe is right, a generation that uses the platform that has been handed to them to spread awareness. This generation, while is often criticized for their presence in the digital age, will take advantage of all that they have been given. These seniors, both high school and college, will change the world. I am so excited to see what we can do to end racism in this country once and for all.