Common shared his admiration of Chicago’s graduating class of 2020 in the city’s Grad 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago virtual event in an empowering speech on Sunday (June 14).
During the ceremony, which aired on local stations, the Oscar-winning songwriter praised the grads for their achievement during the global coronavirus pandemic, which has canceled milestone celebrations such as graduations and proms around the country.
“You all have accomplished something that no other class in the history of America, in the history of Chicago, in the history of anywhere has accomplished. You all accomplished graduation and made it to your graduation to get your diplomas in a time when the world has never seen anything like this,” said Common via video message. “You all will always be remembered as historymakers at a time in history when things were changing.”
He also urged graduates to remember the strength and power within them as they move forward in their lives and contribute to society.
“You all have achieved things at certain levels and put your minds toward things that many people may not have been able to overcome and rise above, but you have, Class of 2020,” continued the Windy City native. “So I want you to go out in this world, go out there with purpose, go out there with truth, go out there with the love that you exude and that you put into your craft and academics, into yourself and into your community, and spread that to the world as proud Chicagoans, as proud people of our city, as proud human beings, as proud children of God.”
He ended his speech by sharing how much the Class of 2020 has touched him. “I’m inspired by you all. I value you,” said Common. “You are the light and the change we need in this world.”
Ahead of Sunday afternoon’s celebration, Billboard and Dick Clark Productions compiled a video of more than 20 artists sending their best wishes to the graduates. Among them were DJ Khaled, Thomas Rhett, Saweetie, and others. Watch it here.
Check out Common’s speech below, which begins at the 54:50 mark.