Oprah urges 2020 graduates to confront inequalities illuminated by COVID-19
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Oprah WinfreyOprah Gail Winfrey'Gone With the Wind' is gone with the protests — so what's next? Minnesota health officials say graduation ceremony exposed people to coronavirus The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens coronavirus funds for states easing voting MORE addressed the class of 2020 in a virtual commencement speech on Friday, urging graduates to "lead us" into the post-pandemic world and calling them the "pandemic class."

"Can you use this disorder that COVID-19 has wrought?" Oprah asked on the Facebook livestream event, urging graduates to consider "how to create a new and evolved normal."

In-person graduation ceremonies were cancelled this year due to to school closures and statewide stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 


Oprah went on to list the "vast systemic inequities" she said had been illuminated by COVID-19, saying "inequality is a preexisting condition" for the poor, immigrants and incarcerated people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

She also referred to injustice in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, the young black man killed while jogging in Georgia in February, without using his name.

"Every one of us is now being called to graduate, to step toward something," Oprah said. "You, the real graduates on this day, you will lead us."

She urged graduates to be "at peace with the discomfort of stepping into the unknown."


"What will your essential service be? What really matters to you?" she asked, concluding her brief speech.

Facebook's commencement event also featured a number of other celebrities to honor 2020 graduates, including Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Miley Cyrus, Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak, among others.

Former President Obama and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaPrinceton must finish what it started The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Justices rule Manhattan prosecutor, but not Congress, can have Trump tax records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump takes on CDC over schools MORE are also participating in virtual commencement events taking place Saturday and on June 6.