Oprah joins Facebook commencement, urges 2020 graduates to 'create more equity, justice'

Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina and Miley Cyrus also make appearances.

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Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read

Oprah gave the keynote address during Facebook's #Graduation2020 event.

Getty Images

This year's graduates may not have envisioned their commencement taking place via Facebook Watch, but they also probably never expected to have Oprah Winfrey give the keynote address. 

Winfrey, along with other celebrities including Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Matthew McConaughey and Miley Cyrus, joined Facebook's #Graduation2020 event on Friday to share some wisdom with this year's graduates. Cyrus also performed her song "The Climb."

"Even though there may not be pomp because of our circumstances, never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose, vision, passion and energy and hope," Winfrey said. "You have the power to stand for, to fight for and vote for healthier conditions that will create a healthier society." 

Facebook says the event is part of its effort to celebrate graduates who won't have traditional ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The social networking giant, which has 2.5 billion monthly active users, has been shifting its focus to features such as live video and news during the virus outbreak. 

Winfrey encouraged graduates to "create more equity, more justice and more joy in the world" in light of the pandemic. 

"As all the traditions affirm, the deepest self care is at once caring for the human family, and we see this so clearly with essential workers," she said. "We are all here because they, at great and profound risk, are still providing their essential service. What will your essential service be? What really matters to you?"

The ceremony recognized high schools and colleges from each US state, displaying photos and videos of the class of 2020 and messages from students, deans and principals. 

As lockdown and social distancing orders remain in place around the world, chat and communication services are seeing a spike in usage as people seek ways to stay in touch. The number of Facebook Live viewers in the US jumped up to 50% from February to March, according to the company. 

Facebook also globally launched a new group video chat feature on Messenger this week, and last month expanded the number of people who can be on a WhatsApp video or voice call from four to eight (Facebook is WhatsApp's parent company).

Watch this: Facebook unveils Messenger Rooms