5 Powerful Commencement Addresses by Black Women

It's that time of year again! Graduation at any level is such an incredible achievement. I love attending commencement ceremonies for the hope and pride in the air. The Commencement Address is without a doubt the part most of us look forward to. As graduates we look forward to the announcement of who will deliver said address. Sometimes we're met with disappointment, but any of the following 5 black women would be well received. Here are 5 powerful Commencement Addresses by black women: 1. Melissa Harris-Perry, Wellesley College, 2012

In a world that teaches women to be thin, be thick.

Thick is the only thing worth being. When you are thick you unconditionally embrace the object of your attention. Thick women make fools of themselves all the time, because thin women stand on the sidelines; they're critical; they're removed; they're barely committed. Thick people pitch tents in a park with the belief that social action can change an entire international global system of economic injustice.

~Melissa Harris-Perry

Oprah Winfrey, Harvard University, 2013

Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost. But then, here’s the key: Learn from every mistake, because every experience, particularly your mistakes, are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are.

~Oprah Winfrey

Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth University, 2014

You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize Winning Author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. [...] Guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. Because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up. [...] [Eventually I figured out that] I could dream about being Toni Morrison. Or I could do. At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories. A way that suited me. A way that brought me joy. A way that flipped this switch in my brain and changed the way I saw the world. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey's Anatomy. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.

~Shonda Rhimes

Kerry Washington, George Washington University, 2013

In every culture and in every moment of human existence, the ritual of storytelling has been a central tenet of our experience, because it is through stories that we understand ourselves and each other.

~Kerry Washington

Michelle Obama, Tuskeegee University, 2015

And I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day — those nagging worries that you’re going to get stopped or pulled over for absolutely no reason; the fear that your job application will be overlooked because of the way your name sounds; the agony of sending your kids to schools that may no longer be separate, but are far from equal; the realization that no matter how far you rise in life, how hard you work to be a good person, a good parent, a good citizen — for some folks, it will never be enough.

~Michelle Obama

Do you have a favorite Commencement Address? Please share below.