Meghan Markle gave a call to action to end racial injustice in a surprise speech

On Wednesday night, Meghan Markle delivered a powerful and timely speech to a virtual crowd of high school graduates. Speaking to the young women of Immaculate Heart High School, the L.A. school she once attended herself, Markle’s speech was both deeply personal and political. Instead of ignoring the recent events connected to the wrongful deaths of George Floyd and others, Markle centered them, using the platform to call on the graduates to join her in a fight to end racial injustice and police brutality.

She started by expressing that, when writing the speech, she worried about saying the wrong thing during such a sensitive and important time, but she knew she couldn’t stay silent.

“I wasn’t sure what I could say to you,” she said. “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 realized—the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.

Markle 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 don’t know.”

She went on to remember her start at Immaculate Heart when she was 11 or 12 years old. She recalled the eerily similar social climate after a “senseless act of racism”—when LAPD officers violently beat construction worker Rodney King—led to the Los Angeles Riots of 1992.

“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,” she said. “And I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles. I remember pulling up to the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”

She expressed how sorry she felt that the young women she was speaking to were living in a world that had failed to change. “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,” she told them. However, Markle hasn’t lost hope, and she aimed to instill that in all those listening, remembering how people came together back in 1992 and how people are doing the same now.

“We are seeing people stand in solidarity,” she said. “We are seeing communities come together and to uplift. And you are going to be part of this movement.”

She encouraged the graduates to use the skills they had learned over the past four years to be a part of positive change. “You get to be part of rebuilding,” she said. “And I know sometimes people say how many times do we need to rebuild? Well, you know, we are going to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild until it is rebuilt. Because when the foundation is broken, so are we.”

She ended by providing some instructions for just how these women could join the fight for racial justice.

“You are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with compassion, you are going to use your voice,” she said. “You are going to use your voice in a stronger way than you’ve ever been able to because most of you are 18 or you’re going to turn 18 so you’re going to vote. You are going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do.”

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