Janelle Monáe’s commencement speech to Dillard University’s graduates is one we *all* need to hear

Most commencement speeches are filled will words of wisdom and advice for the young adults about to take the first step into their future. But Janelle Monáe’s commencement speech to Dillard University’s 2017 graduating class has an important message that is relevant to all people living during this period of history.

Monáe talked about NASA physicist Mary Jackson, whom she portrayed in the film Hidden Figures. She said that Jackson and other historic black influencers believed in community and opportunity.

"What they believed in was that everybody should have the right to the American Dream," Monáe said, "no matter who you love, no matter where you came from, no matter what you looked like, and no matter what god you served."

According to NOLA.com, Monáe compared the Dillard graduating class to the person at the end of a bucket brigade. They receive the credit for putting out the fire, but she reminded them that they must be “gracious” and “thankful” for everyone who helped put the fire out.


The singer and actress drove home the idea of choosing freedom over fear, and used Mary Jackson as an example of doing so. Monáe said,

"She stood before that white judge with so much courage and determination to challenge the system. She saw freedom and she went for it. She grabbed it by the neck and she just wouldn't let up. That's how we — me and you — can escape the gravity of fear, making us free to soar wherever our hearts and minds so desire."

You can watch the tail end of Monáe’s speech below.


And if you have a chance to watch her speech in full, we recommend you do so! NOLA.com was kind enough to upload it to their Facebook.

Monáe received an honorary doctorate from Dillard University and dedicated her degree to her grandmother, parents, and entire family, who all came from humble means.

Thank you so much, Dr. Janelle Monáe, for inspiring everyone to choose freedom over fear. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel, and thanks to you, that light just got a little brighter!

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