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In Case You Missed It: Vice President Kamala Harris Addresses Class of 2021 in CNN Special Event

May 24, 2021

Last night in pre-recorded virtual remarks, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the Class of 2021 as a part of "Graduation 2021: A CNN Special Event." The Vice President told the graduates that they have the strength to get through anything, and she said they will help determine what our world will look like on the other side of the pandemic. Before the event, she spoke to four students from across the country about their accomplishments and shared with them advice that her mother gave her. Watch clips from the event and read the full remarks below.


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Full remarks by Vice President Harris as delivered:

Hello—and congratulations to the Class of 2021. I am so proud of each and every one of you.

You know, history is going to remember a lot about this time. About all who persevered. About all who served. The heroes among us. And about all that was lost: Lives were lost, livelihoods and normalcy.

And graduates, you will remember all of that, to be sure. And you will also remember one thing you gained: one important thing, one incredible thing. Your high school diploma.

You know exactly what it took to get here. Right in the middle of your junior year, everything seemed to stop. Prom was cancelled. Sports were cancelled. School plays were cancelled. And you were separated from your friends, and your support network.

For more than a year, you kept going to class, even if it was online. You kept studying. You kept striving. And you made it to this day.

And there are two things I'd like you to remember:

One: you now know that you have what it takes to get through pretty much anything. So, when you come up against an obstacle. When you experience a setback, and you will, we all do. Remember the resilience that you showed this past year. The determination. Remember that you have the strength to get through anything.

Two: you do not have to get through anything alone. You are not alone. We are all in this together.

And when we look out for one another, everybody is better off. Just think about what you have done. You have worn your masks. You have volunteered at food banks. You have helped your siblings get signed in for school. You have helped your grandparents get signed in for the vaccine.

So, this past year, as tough as it has been, it has taught you a few things about yourself. And I want you to know this about yourself and be proud of this about yourself. Which is, you are strong. You are smart. And you have so much to offer.

And so as you take this next step, I'd ask that you carry with you all that you have learned. Because today, you are stepping out into the world. And as you do, we are beginning as a world to emerge from the pandemic.

So Class of 2021—I do believe you will help determine what our world will look like on the other side.

You are not the first to shoulder this responsibility. Throughout our nation's history, students and young people have shaped that industry and that history.

Think about it. In 1912, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee rode on horseback in a women's suffrage parade. She was only 16.

In 1930, Larry Itliong joined his first strike as a farmworker. He was only 17.

In 1942, Eugene Valencia, Jr. earned his wings and went on to fight in World War II. He was 21.

In 1960, Diane Nash led the Nashville Sit-Ins to protest racial segregation. She was just under 22.

And at the age of 22, this year, the poet Amanda Gorman stood on the Inaugural Platform and challenged all of us.

And you might remember, she said, "Let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with."

So that is the work ahead of us. And that is the question in front of you. How will you make our world better?

And some of you will go on to serve in our military, and defend our country, and in that way, fight for the ideals of our country. Some of you will join the workforce, and build our country up, having the ability to see what can be created and what can be. Some of you will go off to college, and study and explore things that we haven't even discovered yet. You will become teachers, you will become leaders, you will become nurses, you will invent the technology that will help our nation compete, and you will help lead our nation, including as public servants.

No matter what you decide to do. No matter where you decide to go. No matter how many times you change your major if you go to college, or your profession. We need you.

We need you to be as kind as you are courageous. We need you to be as ambitious as you are curious. We need you to dream, and we need you to do.

And this is what I call American Aspiration. It's the capacity to think big. The capacity to keep going. It lives in each and every one of you.

So, as you cross the graduation stage, in person or virtually, as we emerge from this pandemic, please remember that you are prepared. Remember that you are not alone. Remember to aspire with ambition.

And graduates— always know, President Joe Biden and I, and your country, believe in you.

And we are counting on you to lead.

Congratulations again—the Class of 2021. Thank you.

Kamala Harris, In Case You Missed It: Vice President Kamala Harris Addresses Class of 2021 in CNN Special Event Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/350071

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