Oglala-Lakota graduate Megan Red Shirt-Shaw speaks up for education at Harvard commencement speech
Credit: HarvardEducation /

Until recently, I taught college English and Native American literature. It wasn’t easy, and neither was the graduate education leading up to it. As a Muscogee (Creek) student and then professor, I had to contend with many misperceptions and challenges related to being a Native American person working away from my community. While most came from well-meaning people, it was still tiring, so I was a little relieved when a military move caused me to take a break from teaching.

However, Oglala-Lakota graduate Megan Red Shirt-Shaw’s speech at the Harvard Graduate School of Education convocation almost convinced me to return to the profession by reminding me — and the thousands of people who shared it on social media — that education is powerful, especially at a time when education funding is in danger of being cut and the teaching profession is increasingly disrespected.

In it, Red Shirt-Shaw says that “we as educators will be called to courageously change because of times in America like the one we are currently experiencing.”

She said of her time at Harvard,

Red Shirt-Shaw, who founded the online publication Natives in America for young Native writers, spent her spring break in Canada working with First Nations young women who were homeless. She said,

She ended with a phrase in Lakota: “Weksuye, Ciksuye, Miksuye.” (“I remember, I remember you, Remember me.”)

She called on her fellow graduates to remember to bring all they learned inside and outside the classroom to their students because…

This is one commencement speech you’re going to want to bookmark.