More than 3 million high school students will not have a traditional graduation this spring.
But the COVID-stricken Class of 2020 will have something no other group could dream of: a televised national commencement address from Barack Obama.
And those millions of students have one person to thank: fellow senior Lincoln Debenham.
He’ll be graduating with them from Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock High School. But he grew up in Westport and spent 2 years at Staples High School, before moving with his parents to California.
In mid-April Lincoln tweeted an invitation to the former president, to deliver a commencement address. It quickly earned hundreds of thousands of likes, and retweets.
This afternoon, Obama said “sure!”
In fact, he’ll do more than one.
“Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” is an hour-long, multi-platform event. It airs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 16 on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and other broadcast and digital streaming partners.
Special guests include LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, H.E.R. and Ben Platt.
On Saturday, June 6 (3 p.m.), Obama and his wife Michelle will take part in YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020.” The couple will deliver separate commencement addresses.
They’ll be joined an array of leaders from many fields, including Malala Yousafzai, Sundar Pichai, former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington.
Obama will also participate in “Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edition,” a 2-hour event May 16 for students at historically black colleges and universities.
Lincoln heard the news from his mother — not the Obamas. Still, he’s stoked.
“This means a whole lot to me,” he told ABC News.
“The class of 2020 as well as anybody who wants to tune in are going to hear inspiration and uplifting words from these two amazing people who my generation grew up following. It’s what need right now and I’m glad Mr. and Mrs. Obama were so kind to agree to do it.”
As for Lincoln: He’s headed to California State University in Los Angeles.
And perhaps, a great career as a media influencer.