John Legend gave the keynote address at the Duke University Undergraduate Graduation Ceremony at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina on Sunday.
“You know, I feel good because today because it is the first time that I am in front of a live audience, I hear applause live, since last February, 14 months ago”, the 42-year-old singer said as he kicked off his speech.
The legend spoke of the difficult times for graduates in the aftermath of a year plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Latest: John Legend, 42, gave the keynote address at the Duke University undergraduate graduation ceremony at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina on Sunday.
“Your class has lost a lot: some lost jobs, some lost loved ones, and you’ve all lost an entire year of those little moments that make college so special,” Legend said.
“I feel your pain: you have lost something that you will not get back. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – that sucks.
The EGOT laureate, who also received an honorary degree from the institution, praised the student for his resilience in the midst of difficult times.
“The fact that you are here today, graduating from one of the greatest universities in the world, means that you have had to approach life with a certain competitiveness,” the All of Me singer said. the past year you’ve been forced to take a break, to see yourselves not only competing with one another, but in community with one another.
Legend noted the unprecedented nature of the past year amid the shutdown and the precautions people were taking to quell the pandemic.
Back to normal: Legend said Sunday’s event marked his first time in front of a live audience in 14 months
Legend noted the unprecedented nature of the past year amid the shutdown and the precautions people have taken to quell the pandemic
Graduation day: EGOT winner posed in a blue dress at the ceremony
“Anyone who got sick was a risk for everyone,” he said. “We’ve all had to slow down, take social distances, cover our faces, stop filling our days with maximum productivity and just protect each other, keep us alive, take care of each other. “
Legend drew inspiration from his own academic past where he graduated second from his high school class and went to the University of Pennsylvania.
“This perspective that you have gained will serve us all, because while this competitive dynamic that has brought you here can be an incredible gift, it can also hinder us,” he said.
The legend laid out the truths on display as he learned about the history of the United States and how to move forward with the lessons in tow.
“America’s history has always been marred by efforts to exclude, dominate, subjugate, keep certain groups of people voiceless, powerless, and opportunity-less: workers, women, natives, Blacks, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, ‘he said. “All because of the fear that if these people did better, someone else would have to lose.
Flashback: Legend came to campus in 2004 for a Last Day of Classes concert with Kanye West
“But the miracle of our history is that by expanding our opportunities, at our best times, we have proven these fears to be unfounded. When more people made more money, wealthy business owners didn’t suffer, they had more customers. Prosperity has increased for everyone.
The singer said that “once we recognize our interdependence, our mutuality, it is clear that love is precisely what our society needs”.
Legend came to campus in 2004 for a Last Day of Classes concert with Kanye West.
Duke University President Vincent Price said in a statement: “We are delighted that John Legend is our speaker at the start of the undergraduate cycle – and to have such an extraordinary group of honorary degree recipients, each having brought transformational contributions to our understanding of the world. ‘