Senior English Address | Harvard Commencement 2022 | Summary and Q&A

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June 23, 2022
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Harvard University
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Senior English Address | Harvard Commencement 2022

TL;DR

This content explores the concept of being caged, whether literally or figuratively, and emphasizes the importance of finding one's voice and helping others who are still confined.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker's parents help them overcome their shyness?

The speaker's parents refused to allow them to be confined by shyness and encouraged them to speak and act in different situations, providing support and empowerment for finding their voice.

Q: What were some ways the ancestors of the speaker communicated while being enslaved?

The ancestors of the speaker communicated through spirituals like "Wade in the Water" as they worked in the fields, conveying hidden messages about fleeing to the North through water routes.

Q: How did the speaker's perspective on attending Harvard change?

Initially, the speaker didn't believe Harvard was possible, but with their mother's guidance and encouragement, they realized their worth and eventually became the first Black student body president in Harvard's history.

Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the lives of individuals?

The pandemic resulted in quarantine, masking, virtual learning, and other restrictions that confined people. However, despite these limitations, people showed resilience and adaptability, persevering through difficult circumstances.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker reflects on their childhood shyness and how their parents helped them overcome it by encouraging them to speak and act in various situations.

  • The speaker acknowledges the resilience and perseverance shown during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite feeling caged, and highlights the importance of remaining vigilant.

  • The speaker emphasizes the need for graduates to uplift and support those who are still confined or facing systemic barriers, particularly the incarcerated population.

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