The best 2020 commencement speeches

With in-person graduations sidelined, tons of celebrities and public figures have imparted words of wisdom for the class of 2020.

By Will Pankey


Like everything in the country the graduation ceremony has gone online. Virtual commencement speeches have popped up around the internet, with the class of 2020 celebrating their accomplishments inside while watching Barack Obama impart words of wisdom on a laptop screen. While that scene doesn’t arouse much energy to go out and conquer the world, the commencement speeches that celebrities and politicians have shared have been funny, insightful, and in some cases powerful. Check out the best ones below.

Barack Obama

Presidential majordomo Barry O delivered the most impressive speech so far. It’s difficult to not feel something when his dulcet, measured, confident speech patterns hit the ear. His speech is typically soothing and filled with advice and addresses the realistic challenges the class of 2020 (and the country) faces.

Matthew McConaughey

After an interview where the GMA hosts showed McConaughey’s blonde streaks in high school, the actor provided a few lessons for the class of 2020 including not to fear failure and to strive beyond your grasp.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey addressed the class of 2020 in the middle forest where she sends a plea to new graduates to set an example and create a new “evolved normal” that is more just, kind and tender.

Eric Andre

Leave it up to Adult Swim to skewer the idea of a commencement speech. While Eric Andre keeps the speech in-line with his usual antics, there is a moment in the middle when he actually gets serious and talks about the year he started college at the turn of the 2000s. It’s weirdly more heartfelt than a typical commencement speech.

LeBron James

LeBron James sent the class of 2020 a heartfelt message about the importance of community and rising to the occasion for the people that need it the most.

Hugh Jackman, The Cookie Monster, Usher, Selena Gomez, Awkwafina and more

Instagram gathered a motley group of celebs for the platform’s message to the class of 2020. It’s like watching a highlight tape of commencement speeches with all the pearls of wisdom isolated for quick inspiration.