With graduation ceremonies across the country and worldwide being canceled due to social distancing following the Coronavirus, YouTube held a national graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 yesterday with the help of a number of celebrities and public figures.
The event began with Lizzo leading a New York Philharmonic-backed version of graduation staple "Pomp and Circumstance" on flute, which started traditional but exploded into a trap beat about halfway through.
Alicia Keys was the first speaker to offer her thoughts, empathizing with graduates. She said,“You're taking your heartbreak and your outrage and you’re putting it into action — and you are showing that you are the generation that’s the one that’s going to heal this.”
Justin Timberlake addressed viewers from a makeshift graduation program and pointed out how historically unique this ceremony would be, andTaylor Swift said that she too was not able to have a traditional graduation, due to being in the midst of a radio tour.
Lady Gaga began her address by explaining that she had to re-record her speech after "the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent activist movement protesting police brutality and systemic racism in this country." She also offered to graduates that when viewing the state of the world today,"There is much to be sad about, there's also much to be celebrated... you are watching what is a pivotal moment in the country's evolution. You're watching society change in a deeply important way.”
Beyoncé delivered one of the longest and most powerful messages on the day, addressing the protests that had sprung up around the world in the wake of George Floyd's killing at the hands of the Minneapolis police. She said, “Thank you for using your collective voice in letting the word know that Black Lives Matter. Real change has started with you, this new generation of high school and college graduates we celebrate today.”
Some of the musical performers were done by Finneas O’Connell, Noah Cyrus, Tove Lo, Khalid, Ty Dolla Sign, Camila Cabello and Christ Martin.
Later, the cast of cable sitcom "Schitt's Creek" joined online to perform a version of Mariah Carey's “Hero." Then, Mariah herself joined in on the final chorus, which surprised everyone including the cast.
The graduates also received advice from Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Chloe X Halle and Barack and Michelle Obama.
Katy Perry ended the ceremony with officially announcing the Class of 2020, then shifting her imaginary tassel as a video of dozens of graduates flooded the screen and closed with performances of her new single “Daisies” and her older hit “Firework.”