Meghan Markle has spoken about the death of George Floyd, and the subsequent protests that have erupted around the world in a virtually-delivered a graduation speech to her old school, Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School in Los Angeles, that addressed the current protests against racism and police brutality in the United States and her own history as a biracial woman growing up in California.
“I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing. I was really nervous that I wouldn’t, or that it would get picked apart and I realize the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing. Because George Floyd’s life mattered and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered and Philando Castile’s life mattered and Tamir Rice’s life mattered,” she continued as her voice cracked. “And so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know.”
“As we’ve all seen over the past week, what is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of LA, has been absolutely devastating,” the 38-year-old duchess – who is living in Los Angeles with her husband, Prince Harry – said to graduates of Immaculate Heart High School in a video during their Wednesday night ceremony.
“Immaculate Heart High School, graduating class of 2020, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been planning on saying a few words to you for your graduation and as we all have seen over the past few weeks, what is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of LA has been absolutely devastating.”
“The first thing I want to say to you is that I’m sorry. I’m so sorry you have to grow up in a world where this is still present,” she said.
Meghan then talked about her memories of living in Los Angeles during the riots in the wake of the death of Rodney King at the hands of police in 1992 and drew a direct comparison between King’s death and the death of George Floyd.
“I was 11 or 12 years old when I was just about to start IHMS (Immaculate Heart Middle School) in the fall and it was the LA riots, which were also triggered by a senseless act of racism,” she said.
“I remember the curfew and i remember rushing back home and and on that drive home seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke — and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings and seeing people run out buildings and looting and seeing men in the back of the van just holding guns and rifles.”
“I can’t imagine that.. you would have to have a different version of that same type of experience. That’s something you should have an understanding of — but an understanding of as a history lesson, not as your reality.”
Meghan told the graduates that she knew they would channel what they had learned at Heart High School and be leaders in these uncertain times.
“You are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with compassion, you are going to use your voice.”
“You are going to use your voice in a stronger way than you have ever been able to, because most of you are 18, or you’re going to turn 18, so you’re going to vote. You are going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do — because with as diverse, vibrant and opened-minded as I know the teachings at Immaculate Heart are, I know you know that black lives matter.”
“You are equipped, you are ready, we need you, and you’re prepared.”