“I wasn’t sure what I could say to you. 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,” the former Duchess of Sussex said in a video message on Thursday, June 4. “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.”
Markle, 38, added she was “sorry” the graduating class will have to “grow up in a world where this is still present.” However, she gave them a little bit of encouraging advice that she once learned from her teacher when she used to be a student at Immaculate Heart High School.
“Always remember to put others’ needs above your own fears,” she said. “And that has stuck with me through my entire life, and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before.”
Seeing protestors hit the streets to demand justice for Floyd, who died while being restrained by white police officers, has made Queen Elizabeth‘s granddaughter-in-law think about the 1992 Los Angeles riots she experienced as a 10-year-old girl. Markle recalled seeing “ash fall from the sky,” men holding “guns and rifles” and people “carrying bags and looting.”
“Those memories don’t go away,” she shared. “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.”
While wrapping up her video message, the Los Angeles resident told the graduating class that they should always be the change they want to see in the world. “You are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with compassion, you are going to use your voice,” she said. “You’re 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.”
For more information, visit Blacklivesmatter.com.