Speaking to students at her former school in Los Angeles on Wednesday (3 June) as part of a virtual graduation ceremony, Meghan described George Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer as “devastating”.
Speaking openly about how she had felt over the last week, Meghan told the pupils: “For the past couple of weeks I’ve been planning to say a few words to you for your graduation. And as we’ve all seen over the last week, what is happening in our country, and in our state, and in our hometown of LA, has been absolutely devastating.
“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 realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing, 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 do not know.”
Meghan went on to apologise to the students for having to grow up when racist acts are still happening – and reflected on a time when she, too, had experienced first-hand the impact a “senseless act of racism” can have on the world.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry you have to grow up in a world where this is still present,” she said. “I was 11 or 12 years old when I was just about to start Immaculate Heart Middle School in the fall, and it was the LA riots, which was also triggered by a senseless act of racism.
“I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings… I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles.
“I remember pulling up at the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”
Concluding her address, Meghan turned her attention towards what young people can do to make a change – and encouraged the students to use their voice in whatever ways they can.
“Now you get to be part of rebuilding,” she said. “And I know sometimes people say ‘How many times do we have to rebuild?’ But we are going to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild until it is rebuilt, because when the foundation is broken, so are we.
“You are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with compassion, you are going to use your voice. You are going to use your voice in a stronger way than you’ve ever been able to because most of you are 18 or are going to turn 18 so you’re going to vote.
“You are going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do because as diverse and vibrant and open-minded as I know that the teachings of the Immaculate Heart are, I know that you know that Black Lives Matter.”
Protests have broken out across the world following George Floyd’s death at the hands of white police officer Derek Chauvin on 25 May in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In a now viral video, Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” multiple times as officer Derek Chauvin kneels on his neck for at least eight minutes.
Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on 29 May, although that charge has since been escalated to second-degree murder.
On 3 June the three other officers present at the scene – Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump said in a statement: “This is a significant step forward on the road to justice and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest.”