In a surprise commencement speech for her former high school, Immaculate Heart, Meghan Markle spoke out about the “absolutely devastating” killing of George Floyd.
On Wednesday, Markle told the graduates virtually, “What is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of L.A. has been absolutely devastating. 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."
Meghan also brought attention to communities coming together amid the nationwide protests. She said, “We are seeing people stand in solidarity... we are seeing communities come together and to uplift. And you are going to be part of this movement.”
Urging students to be vocal against the “senseless acts of racism,” Markle said, “You're going to use your voice in a stronger way than you've ever been able to, because most of you are 18 – or you're going to turn 18 soon — so you're going to vote. You're going to have empathy for those who don't see the world through the same lens that you do.”
Markle also recalled the 1992 riots after Rodney King was beaten by LAPD officers during an arrest. She shared, “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," Meghan went on. “I am sorry that in a way we have not gotten to the place where you deserve it to be.”
Meghan ended her three-minute speech by telling graduates, “I know you know that Black Lives Matter. I am already excited for what you are going to do in the world. You are ready, we need you and you are prepared. I'm so proud to call each of you a fellow alumni. I am cheering you on, all along the way. I am exceptionally proud of you.”
In a recently resurfaced video from 2012, Meghan opened up about her experiences with racism. Speaking out for the “I Won't Stand For…” campaign for Erase the Hate, she shared, “I'm biracial. Most people can't tell what I'm mixed with, and so much of my life has felt like being a fly on the wall. And so some of the slurs I've heard or the really offensive jokes, or the names, it's just hit me in a really strong way.”
Meghan went on to say, “You know, a couple of years ago I heard someone call my mom [Doria Ragland] the N-word. So I think for me, beyond being personally affected by racism, just to see the landscape of what our country is like right now, certainly the world, and to want things to be better.”
The future Duchess further explained “certain people don't look at me and see me as a black woman or a biracial woman… They treat me differently, I think, than they would if they knew what I was mixed with, and I think that is, I don't know, it can be a struggle as much as it can be a good thing, depending on the people that you're dealing with.”
Markle said she was “proud of my heritage on both sides” and “really proud of where I've come from.”