Meghan Markle has spoken out about George Floyd’s death in a virtual address to students.
The Duchess of Sussex sent a video message to the graduating pupils at her old school, Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, this week – and in her speech she addressed the ongoing protests in the US.
The video was then released to black women’s lifestyle magazine Essence, which published it on it’s website today saying “courtesy of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex”.
At the start of her speech, the 38-year-old admitted she was “nervous” about saying the wrong thing – but then realised “the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing”.
Meghan said: “Immaculate Heart High School, the 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’ve all seen over the last week what is happening in our country and in our state and in our home town of LA has been absolutely devastating. And 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 realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing,” she continued. “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. Stephon Clark, his life mattered.”
“And I was thinking about this moment when I was a sophomore in high school, I was 15, and as you know sophomore year is the year we do volunteer work, which is a prerequisite for graduating.”
“And I remember my teacher at the time, one of my teachers, Ms Pollia, said to me as I was leaving for a day of volunteering, ‘always remember to put other’s needs above your own fears’.
“And that has stuck with me throughout my entire life and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before. So the first thing I want to say to you is that I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that you have to grow up in a world where this is still present,” Meghan said.
“I was 11 or 12 years old when I was just about to start Immaculate Heart Middle School in the fall, and it was the LA Riots, which was also triggered by senseless act of racism.”
“And 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.”
“And I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles. And I remember pulling up the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”
“And I can’t imagine that at 17 or 18 years old, which is how old you are now, that you would have to have a different version of that same type of experience. That’s something that you should have an understanding of, but an understanding of as a history lesson, not as your reality.”
“So I am sorry in a way that we have not gotten the world to a place where you deserve it to be,” Meghan continued.
“The other thing though that I do remember about that time was how people came together, and we are seeing that right now. We are seeing that from the sheriff in Michigan or the police chief in Virginia.”
“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. I know that this is not the graduation that you envisioned and this is not the celebration that you imagined.”
“But I also know that there’s a way for us to reframe this for you to not see this as the end of something but instead to see this as the beginning of you harnessing all the work, all of the values, all of the skills that you have embodied over the last four years – and now you channel that.”
“Now all of that work gets activated. Now you get to be part of rebuilding. And I know that sometimes people say how many times do we need to rebuild? But you know that you’re going to rebuild, rebuild and rebuilt until it is rebuilt. Because when the foundation is broken, so are we. You are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with compassion, you are going to use your voice.”
“You’re 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,” she said.
“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. So I am already excited for what you’re going to do in the world.”
“You are equipped, you are ready, we need you and you are prepared. I am so proud to call each of you a fellow alumni, and I’m so eager to see what you’re going to do.”
“Please know that I am cheering you on all along the way, I am exceptionally proud of you, and I’m wishing you a huge congratulations on today, the start of all the impact you’re going to make in the world as leaders that we all so deeply crave. Congratulations ladies, and thank you in advance,” she added.
Immaculate Heart High School is a private Roman Catholic school in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, where Meghan studied from the age of 11 to 18.
Meghan went on to study at Northwestern University in Illinois, and later rose to fame as Rachel Zane in popular legal drama Suits.
The 38-year-old then quit her acting career in 2017, and married Prince Harry in May 2018.
The couple now live in Los Angeles with their son 1-year-old son Archie , after they quit their roles as senior members of the British royal family earlier this year.
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On this week’s episode of #GossChats @itsalirose chats to Love Island winner and rugby star @gregoshea about his experience on the reality show, what REALLY happened after the Amber breakup, and some of the strange things women have sent him in his DMs. #GossChats is sponsored by top aesthetic clinic @haus_of_jejuve