The Obamas to open The YouTube Virtual Graduation Ceremony with Lady Gaga and Others

by Duke Magazine
President Barack Obama and wide, Michelle Obama

YouTube is garnering a 2020 virtual pomp-and-circumstance circuit with a video graduation ceremony, including opening addresses to be delivered by the U.S former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama.

YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” original special will parade other celebrities on the feature, such as Lady Gaga, BTS, and the former U.S Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. The festival-style lineup will be colored with talks on traditional graduation-day themes sandwiched with music performances.

The event premieres on Saturday, June 6, on the YouTube Originals channel (at this link) and YouTube’s Learn@Home site (

The “Dear Class of 2020” is to have President Obama and Michelle Obama, deliver individual opening speeches, and a joint message to the graduates. Also, Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative will host an hour of content to commence the celebration.

The opening speakers to be paraded are; BTS, Lady Gaga, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai. BTS and others will perform at a virtual graduation night after-party.

“Dear Class of 2020” will have special appearances by Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Kerry Washington, Chloe x Halle, Zendaya, and YouTube creators Jackie Aina, AsapSCIENCE, Dude Perfect, Mr. Kate, and The Try Guys.

YouTube’s full schedule of commencement events will be available on the Learn@Home site beginning on May 17. Graduates can also set a reminder for the show and sign their names on the Dear Class of 2020 Shout Out Board at

YouTube is partnership with Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative, Born This Way Foundation, Malala Fund, NBC’s “Today,” and Ideas United to display students’ stories and feature graduates around the world, including an in-gathering opening speech. 

“Graduation is a tradition that students and families look forward to and with the current state of the world, YouTube is lending some inspiration in the form of a virtual commencement,” said Susanne Daniels, global head of content for YouTube. “We hope bringing together noteworthy, influential speakers along with performances from some of their favorite artists will provide encouragement for the students who have worked so hard to get here.”

This special event is being packaged and produced by Done and Dusted. Overseeing the project for YouTube are Nadine Zylstra, head of learning for YouTube Originals, along with Danny Zaccagnino, Laurel Stier, Lauren Vrazilek, and Zoe Di Stefano on the learning development team.

On a separate event, on May 16 at 2 p.m., Barack Obama will feature in “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a two-hour live-streaming event for historically black colleges and universities.

In addition to that, President Obama will be on the standby to deliver an opening address during “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” a one-hour multimedia event on May 16 hosted by XQ Institute, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. This event will feature appearances by LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R., Ben Platt and others. It’s set to be simulcast on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC as well as via 20-plus other broadcast and digital streaming partners on May 16, from 8-9 p.m. ET.

Another live-streaming graduation celebration to behold is Facebook’s May 25 event that will host Oprah Winfrey giving a keynote opening address, and also featuring Jennifer Garnet, Miley Cyrus, Olympic champion gymnast, Simone Biles, and others.

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