Kamala Harris to give 2021 commencement speech in CNN special
Harris will be among several A-list celebrities who will also participate in the special which airs on Sunday
CNN will honor the millions of students graduating from high school or college this weekend with a star-studded prime-time special airing on Sunday.
The televised event, hosted by CNN’s Brianna Keilar and Don Lemon, will feature a keynote address from Vice President Kamala Harris.
She will be joined by several A-list speakers including Kim Kardashian West, Shaquille O’Neal, Candace Parker, Dwyane Wade, Russell Wilson and rapper Ludacris.
The special will include musical performances from students at the Duke Ellington School of Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City, PEOPLE reports.
The special celebrating the Class of 2021 “comes as many schools across the country plan virtual ceremonies for the second year in a row because of the pandemic,” the network says.
Harris will also be the keynote speaker for this year’s in-person graduation ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy on May 28 in Annapolis, USA Today reported. The number of guests in attendance will be limited due to COVID safety protocols, officials said.
President Joe Biden gave the commencement speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2010 and 2015 while he was vice president. On Wednesday morning (May 19), he was the keynote speaker at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Harris previously delivered an inspiring commencement address at her alma mater, Howard University, in 2017, encouraging graduates to “speak truth,” as reported by The Huffington Post.
“The reality is on most matters, somebody is going to make the decision — so why not let it be you?” she said. “Because, if we’re going to make progress anywhere, we need you everywhere. And, sometimes to make change you’ve got to change how change is made.”
Harris called on the Howard graduates to let the university’s motto ― “Veritas et Utilitas,” meaning “Truth and Service” ― be their guide in areas where they can make a difference, even when faced with challenges that are “uncomfortable or inconvenient.”
“At a time when there are Americans — disproportionately Black and brown men — trapped in a broken system of mass incarceration … speak truth — and serve,” Harris said.
“At a time when men, women and children have been detained at airports in our country simply because of the God they worship … speak truth — and serve. At a time when immigrants have been taken from their families in front of schools and outside courthouses … speak truth — and serve,” she told the graduates.
“And at a time of incredible scientific and technological advances as well … when we’re dreaming of a mission to Mars … and unraveling the mysteries of the brain … and entrepreneurs in my home state of California are even starting to test flying cars … speak truth — and serve.”
Most recently, Harris took to social media to praise her stepdaughter, Ella Emhoff, for graduating from The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York City.
“Congratulations to our daughter Ella on her graduation,” Harris wrote on Instagram. “I am so proud of you. Keep dreaming with ambition and there is nothing you cannot achieve. Love, Momala.”
You will need a log-in from your cable service provider to watch the live stream of Graduation 2021: A CNN Special Event, airing Sunday, May 23 at 7 p.m. ET on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español.
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