Who Invited Barack Obama to Speak to Nation’s Graduates is Kind of Surprising

As the end of the academic school year draws near, the lack of in-person commencement ceremonies acknowledging each graduate’s years of hard work is painfully felt.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama
Former U.S. President Barack Obama | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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Former U.S. president Barack Obama will be addressing the nation’s graduates and that came as great news to millions of students.

How it all came about is surprising and kind of serendipitous.

The person that invited Obama to address the nation’s graduates

Once it became clear to graduating high school and college seniors that there would be no in-person graduation ceremony, students began to express their disappointment at their frustration that years and years of work would not be celebrated or observed. There would be no senior prom. No signing of yearbooks. Just distance from friends and family.

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One student, Lincoln Debenham, a senior at Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles, took it upon himself to reach out to the former president to invite him to be the commencement ceremony to the graduating class of 2020.

And then the tweet went viral

Debenham tweeted Obama in mid-April saying, “Hi @BarackObama! Like most high school/college seniors, I’m saddened by the loss of milestone events, prom & graduation. In an unprecedented time, it would give us great comfort to hear your voice. We ask you to consider giving a national commencement speech to the class of 2020.”

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The high school senior’s tweet has garnered as of today over 46,000 retweets and over 220,000 likes.

“What an amazing idea,” another person posted, “and what a beautiful way for all of these seniors who have worked so hard whether it be high school, college, whatever it is to be heard, to be seen and recognized. What a beautiful way to give them hope as they forge forward. Thank you for suggesting this!”

Replying to another person, Debenham expanded on his original post, saying “It’s about someone who speaks for my generation. Like Barack Obama was the first President I can remember. The classroom mock elections, watching his inauguration in school. That’s what this is about. Hearing that voice of hope again.”

Barack Obama will be addressing the nation’s graduates

Whether or not Obama is aware of Debenham’s tweet isn’t clear, but the Chicago resident will indeed be addressing the nation’s graduates.

Obama announced on Twitter that he will be holding an event for historically black colleges and universities on May 16, to be followed that evening by an address he will be making, according to The New York Times, called “Graduate Together: High School Class of 2020.”

Then on June 6, Obama will offer another address to the class of 2020, called “Dear Class of 2020,” featuring his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, and more guests.

It’s a gesture that many, many students will appreciate as they prepare to move forward from high school and college to the next big step in their lives.

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