Addressing the graduating class of Immaculate Heart High School on June 3, Meghan Markle spoke out about the death of George Floyd, and the ongoing protests in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
“I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing and I was really nervous that it would get picked apart, and I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing,” she explained to students via a video call. “Because George Floyd’s life mattered, Brianna Taylor’s life mattered, Philando Castile’s life mattered, and Tamir Rice’s life mattered. And so did many other people whose names we know and whose names we don’t know.”
Markle, who was a student herself at Immaculate Heart during the Rodney King Riots in 1991, cast her mind back to the memories she had of the time and how they compare to recent events. “I remember the curfew, I remember rushing back home and on that drive home seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke,” she recalled. “I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles. I remember pulling up to the house and seeing the tree that had always been there completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”
“I can’t imagine that at 17 or 18-year-old, which is how old you are now, that you would have to have a different version of that same experience,” Markle continued. “That’s something you should have an understanding of, but an understanding of as a history lesson, not as your reality. So I am sorry that in a way we have not gotten the world to a place that you deserve it to be.”
However, she also remembers how people came together, she said. “We’re seeing that right now, from the sheriff in Michigan or the police chief in Virgina. We are seeing people stand in solidarity, we are seeing communities come together and to uplift. You are going to be a part of this movement.” Markle concluded the commencement speech for the class of 2020 by encouraging her fellow alumni to rebuild, “because when the foundation is broken, so are we.”
“You are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with compassion, you are going to use your voice — you are going to use your voice in a stronger way than you’ve ever been able to,” she said. “You’re going to have empathy for those who don’t see through the same lens as you do, because with as diverse, vibrant, and open-minded as I know the teaching is at Immaculate Heart, I know you know that Black Lives Matter. You’re ready. We need you and you’re prepared.”