Oprah Gave an Inspiring Commencement Speech at USC

Oprah Winfrey


Oprah gave the commencement speech at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism on Friday.  And of course, she nailed it.  Here are some of her best quotes…

On working together to get things done:  “You can’t personally stop anyone from walking into a school with an assault rifle.  Nor can you single-handedly ensure that the rights that your mothers and your grandmothers fought so hard for will be preserved for the daughters that you may someday have.

“It will take more than you alone to pull more than 40 million Americans out of poverty, but who will you be if you don’t care enough to try?

“And what mountains could we move, what gridlock could we eradicate if we were to join forces and work together in service of something greater than ourselves?”

On the perils of the Internet:  “Everything around us, including and in particular the internet and social media, is now being used to erode trust in our institutions, interfere in our elections, and wreak havoc on our infrastructure.

“It hands advertisers a map to our deepest desires, it enables misinformation to run rampant, attention spans to run short, and false stories from phony sites to run circles around major news outlets.  We have literally walked into traffic while staring at our phones.”

On the importance of truth:  “The truth exonerates, and it convicts.  It disinfects, and it galvanizes.  The truth has always been and will always be our shield against corruption, our shield against greed and despair.  The truth is our saving grace.

“And not only are you here to tell it, to write it, to proclaim it, to speak it, but to be it.  Be the truth.  Be the truth.”                         

The problems we face:  “There’s gun violence and there’s climate change, there’s systemic racism, economic inequality, media bias.  The homeless need opportunity, the addicted need treatment, the Dreamers need protection…

“The prison system needs reforming, the LGBTQ community needs acceptance, the social safety net needs saving, and the misogyny needs to stop.  Needs to stop.”

On the importance of voting:  “I hesitate to say this because the rumors from my last big speech have finally died down, but here it is:  Vote.  Pay attention to what the people who claim to represent you are doing and saying in your name and on your behalf…

“If they go low…thank you, Michelle Obama…we go to the polls.  People died for that right.  I think about it every time I cast a vote, so don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.”

A few more pieces of advice:  “Eat a good breakfast.  It really pays off.  Pay your bills on time.  Recycle.  Make your bed.  Aim high.  Say thank you to people and actually really mean it…

“Know that what you tweet and post and Instagram today might be asked about at a job interview tomorrow, or 20 years from tomorrow. Be nice to little kids, be nice to your elders, be nice to animals…

“Invest in a quality mattress.  I’m telling you, your back will thank you later.  And don’t cheap out on your shoes…

“Don’t ever confuse what is legal with what is moral because they are entirely different animals…in life, you’re either principled or you’re not.  So do the right thing, especially when nobody’s looking.

(You can watch the whole speech here.  And here’s a transcript.  It’s really worth watching the whole thing.)

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