Meghan Markle Delivered an Emotional Speech About Black Lives Matter to Graduates
“I realized 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.”
Meghan Markle released a personal video message to the graduates of the all-girls L.A. prep school she attended, Immaculate Heart.
The Duchess of Sussex began her message by explaining that she’d planned to record something for the virtual commencement ceremony but was worried about saying the wrong thing. “What is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of LA has been absolutely devastating,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t, or that it would get picked apart. And I realized 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. And so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know.”
Markle shared an anecdote about her own experience at Immaculate Heart when she was volunteering during her sophomore year and a teacher told her "always remember to put other’s needs above your own fears” — a sentiment Markle says “has stuck with me throughout my entire life and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before.”
“The first thing I want to say to you is that I’m sorry,” Markle continued. “I am so sorry you have to grow up in a world where this is still present.”
She recalled being in middle school during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
“I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home 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 of buildings carrying bags and looting.
“I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles. I remember pulling up the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”
But she also remembered, “how people came together.”
“We are seeing that right now,” she told graduates. “We’re seeing people stand in solidarity. We’re seeing communities come together and to uplift.”
In a call to action, she told the graduation class, “We are going to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild until it is rebuilt. Because when the foundation is broken, so are we.”
According to royal reporter Omid Scobie, Markle’s spokesperson shared that she "felt compelled to directly address what’s happening in this country right now around the killing of George Floyd––as well as what’s been happening over many, many years and many, many generations to countless other black Americans.”
"This is something incredibly personal to Meghan, especially given everything she has experienced. And as a couple it is, of course, very important. They are both feeling it, just like the rest of us."
Though she, Prince Harry, and Queen Elizabeth, shared a brief message of solidarity through The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust on Monday, this video message is the first personal response from the Duchess regarding the murder of George Floyd and the protests that have followed.