Sure, the University of Delaware had President Biden (he’s an alum).
And Abby Wambach’s Loyola Marymount University speech went viral.
But Greens Farms Academy might win the prize for the coolest commencement speaker of 2022. At any level.
On Thursday, June 9, 90 seniors and their guests will gather on the front lawn at Beachside Avenue to hear inspiring words from …
… Darryl “DMC” McDaniels.
It’s certain that in GFA’s 97 years as an institution, no rapper has ever addressed the graduating class.
Of course, McDaniels is much more than that.
An innovator, motivator and philanthropist, he broke cultural barriers with his legendary band Run-DMC.
The first rap group on the cover of Rolling Stone — and the first to appear on MTV — Run-DMC changed music, culture, fashion, language, and made American history.
They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2016 they received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In between, McDaniels launched a comic book company. He is the author of an autobiography, memoir and children’s book.
“The opportunity to have Darryl as GFA’s commencement speaker is a multi-generational gift,” says head of school Bob Whelan.
“Many parents of graduating seniors are very familiar with him as a member of Run DMC, and his ground-breaking career that featured multiple firsts and countless hits. At the same time, ‘It’s Tricky’ is a familiar TikTok staple for today’s youth. Most importantly, Darryl’s message in his book ‘Darryl’s Dream’ about authenticity is timeless and a perfect message for our graduates.”
In addition to the positive messages McDaniels spreads through his books and speaking engagements, his philanthropic work sets an important example for GFA’s graduating class, Whelan notes.
He co-founded the Felix Organization , a nonprofit that provides inspiring opportunities and new experiences for children in the foster care system. He regularly talks with kids across the country about respect, responsibility and self-awareness, and has appeared before Congress and state legislatures in support of adoptees and foster children.
President Obama invited him to speak at the White House to a group of young men about fatherhood, and he worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on her “Get Fit” Campaign.
“Our school’s mission describes preparing young people for lives of purpose, and Darryl’s life story is one that highlights the importance of becoming the most authentic versions of ourselves,” says Whelan.
“He also speaks openly about the obstacles and challenges one faces along the journey, as someone who struggled with depression and has gone on to become a mental health advocate. He reminds young people that they can do hard things.”
This should be a great graduation, with an inspiring message.
And here’s hoping that when he’s finished speaking, and the Greens Farms Academy graduates line up to receive their diplomas, Darryl McDaniels gives them just one instruction: “Walk this way.”