Meghan Markle breaks her silence on the tragic death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who died last week in Minneapolis after his neck was pinned to the ground by white police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee.
Wednesday night at the Immaculate Heart High School virtual graduation ceremony, the Duchess of Sussex, an alum of the all-girl school, gave a surprise commencement speech to the class of 2020.
A spokesperson for the 38-year-old told People that Meghan “had planned to share a heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2020, who have worked so hard over the past four years,” but “felt compelled to directly address and speak to these young women about what’s happening in this country right now around the killing of George Floyd — as well as what’s been happening over many, many years and many, many generations to countless other black Americans.”
Markle began her address by saying, “For the past couple weeks, I’ve been planning on saying a few words to you for your graduation,” adding that she “wanted to say the right thing.”
However, she admitted that “the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing. 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 do not know. Stephon Clark, his life mattered.”
While recalling the 1992 Los Angeles riots — which began after a jury acquitted four police officers of using excessive force on Rodney King, an unarmed black man — Markle told the graduates, “So the first thing I want to say to you is that I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that you have to grow up in a world where this is still present.”
“And I can’t imagine that at 17 or 18 years old, which is how old you are now, that you would have to have a different version of that same type of experience,” she continued. “That’s something that 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 the place that you deserve it to be.”
However, what gives Markle hope is that “we are seeing people stand in solidarity. We are seeing communities come together and to uplift.” She even brought up the example of Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson, who took off his weapons and marched with a group of protesters in Flint, Michigan.
“And you are going to be part of this movement,” Markle declared.
“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 do, because most of you are 18, or you’re going to turn 18, so you’re going to vote,” she added.
“Congratulations, ladies, and thank you in advance.”