Graduation season is usually dubbed the quintessential time of year where encouraging speeches are given. While this year definitely didn't fail in the inspiration department, it was one graduate's uniquely heartfelt words that left Harvard calling it "the most powerful" speech you'll ever hear.
Donovan Livingston, a graduate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, spoke at the institution's convocation ceremony on Wednesday, adding a personal and relatable touch to his words. He recited a poem titled "Lift Off" where he revaeled details about the many difficulties Black people have faced, specificially within the education system.
After briefly reciting a two-century-old quote from Horace Mann, where he called education "a great equalizer," Livingston went on to explain how simply reading would cost our ancestors their lives.
"For generations, we have known of knowledge's infinite power," he said. "Yet, somehow, we've never questioned the keeper of the keys — the guardians of information."
Within his poem, he spoke on everything from racial inequalities in the education system to finding his own light as a Black man.
"I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree," he said. "I am a DREAM Act, dream deferred incarnate. I am a movement — an amalgam of memories America would care to forget my past, alone won't allow me to sit still. So my body, like the mind, cannot be contained."
His words hit a new high when he shared some words of advice to his fellow graduates and professors, urging them to help free their students as opposed to speaking "over the rustling of our chains."
He ended with these powerful words that are sure to be engrained in every graduate's mind from that moment on: "Together, we can inspire galazies of greatness, for generations to come. No, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning. Lift off."
Livingston will be attending the University of North Carolina in the fall where he will earn his Ph.D.
Watch an excerpt of his moving speech in the video, below:
Watch another emotional moment as a West Point cadet achieves the American Dream in the BET video, above.
(Photo: Harvard Graduate School of Education)
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