Lady Gaga has addressed the death of George Floyd in an impassioned virtual address for 2020 graduates.
Speaking as part of YouTube’s virtual “Dear Class of 2020″ commencement celebration on Sunday (June 7), the singer said she originally recorded a speech that “reflected the shared experience” of coronavirus experienced by the class of 2020.
But after Floyd’s death last month, Gaga realised she had to address the Black Lives Matter movement and protests across the US.
She said: “My speech was recorded before the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent activist movement…while my original commencement speech may not be directly relevant to what this country most needs right now, I wish to tell you today that though there is much to be sad about, there is also much to be celebrated. You are watching what is a pivotal moment in this [country’s] evolution…change will happen and it will be for the better.”
Gaga then went on to outline a metaphor of American society as being a forest, albeit one planted with racist seeds which sprouted branches and leaves
“This forest is where we live. It’s who we are. It’s the morals and value system that we as a society have upheld for centuries,” she said.
But we are being invited to challenge that system,” Gaga continued. “I believe in my heart that the people who are going to make this change happen are listening to this speech right now. You are the seeds that will grow into a new and different forest that is far more beautiful [than the one we live in right now].”
“Your morals, principles and values, I strongly believe now, must be sincere and authentic to you. Your principles must come from your heart,” Gaga said. “Your values must come from your brain. Morals must be derived from the whole you that you contribute lovingly to humanity.”
“People can do hard things. You can do hard things,” she said. “You can rip up and replant the forest to be a vision only you have.”
Preaching the power of kindness, Gaga added: “I encourage you to be kind…when I include that bit about kindness, that’s me making sure during this moment that I am equipped with my morals, values and principles for a very important topic,” she said.
“What do we do now? My answer of ‘kindness’ is simple, but it’s mine. Let’s talk. But let’s also listen. If we don’t listen, we don’t learn.”
“Congratulations to the Class of 2020,” Gaga concluded. “I can’t wait to see your forest.”
Floyd, who was African American, was killed last month when a white police officer appeared to kneel on his neck as he lay on the ground during an arrest.
Officer Derek Chauvin has since been sacked and charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three of his colleagues, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Keung are now all facing charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Since Floyd’s death, protests have erupted in the US and around the world.