2nd UPDATE: June 7: You can watch the ceremony above.
UPDATED, 9 AM: YouTube has moved the date of its global virtual commencement ceremony Dear Class of 2020 to June 7 from its previous date of June 6 in honor of George Floyd’s memorial service, which will be held Saturday in Raeford, NC. More speakers and celebrities also have been to the multi-hour special, joining Barack and Michelle Obama, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Lady Gaga and others.
Tracee Ellis Ross and Shonda Rhimes will join previously announced Yara Shahidi Kelly Rowland, Misty Copeland and Janelle Monáe for a performance of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise. The cast of Schitt’s Creek (Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, Annie Murphy, Jenn Robertson, Emily Hampshire, Noah Reid, Karen Robinson, Sarah Levy, Rizwan Manji) also will reunite for a musical tribute to teachers. Others joining the special include musical artists Leon Bridges, Camila Cabello, Noah Cyrus, Cynthia Erivo, Khalid, Tove Lo, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Ben Platt, and Ty Dolla $ign who will join FINNEAS for for a special rendition of U2’s “Beautiful Day” that will be introduced by Bono.
PREVIOUS, May 19: YouTube has added several speakers and musical performances to Dear Class of 2020, its global virtual commencement ceremony set for June 6.
Joining Barack and Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga and others on the special are Beyoncé Knowles-Carter — who will deliver an inspirational message to the graduates — La La Anthony, Andy Cohen, Lana Condor, Misty Copeland, Kevin Durant, FINNEAS, Bill & Melinda Gates, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Hasan Minhaj, Janelle Monáe, Antoni Porowski, Billy Porter, Phoebe Robinson, Yara Shahidi, Michael Strahan, Taylor Swift, Ciara & Russell Wilson, the casts of Euphoria and Riverdale, Today’s Jenna Bush Hager and Natalie Morales, and YouTube creators Emma Chamberlain, John Green, NikkieTutorials, and Mark Rober.
PREVIOUSLY, May 5: Barack and Michelle Obama will headline Dear Class of 2020, YouTube Originals’ virtual commencement event to celebrate graduates worldwide. The multi-hour event premieres Saturday, June 6 on YouTube. BTS and Lady Gaga also are among the commencement speakers, with special appearances by Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Kerry Washington, Chloe x Halle and Zendaya, among others.
Barack and Michelle Obama each will deliver commencement speeches – as well as a joint heartfelt message – to this year’s high school and college seniors who are missing graduation celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, Michelle Obama’s Higher Reach Initiative will host a full hour of content to kick off the celebration.
“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.”
In addition to BTS and Lady Gaga, commencement speakers include former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, CEO of Alphabet and Google Sundar Pichai, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Malala Yousafzai. BTS and others will perform at a virtual grad night afterparty. “Dear Class of 2020” will also include special appearances from YouTube creators Jackie Aina, AsapSCIENCE, Dude Perfect, Mr. Kate, And The Try Guys.
In “Dear Class of 2020,” people from around the world will join the class of 2020 as a singular community to celebrate their resilience, and the endless possibilities of their future, says YouTube. “The festival-style line up combines classic commencement day themes with a diverse array of entertainment that will capture all of the emotions of graduation including pride, hope, optimism, and camaraderie.”
YouTube is working in partnership with Higher Reach, Born This Way Foundation, Malala Fund, TODAY, and Ideas United to showcase student stories and feature graduates around the world, including a crowd-sourced commencement speech. The special will be produced by Done + Dusted.
“Dear Class of 2020” can be streamed on the YouTube Originals channel and the Learn@Home site. The full schedule of commencement events will be available on the Learn@Home site beginning on May 17.
Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.
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