Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, broke her silence on the protests over George Floyd's death in a message to 2020 graduates of her alma mater, the Immaculate Heart High School. The former Suits actress, who was born in Los Angeles, said she was nervous about what to say about the protests, but decided "the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing." In her speech, Markle apologized to the graduates for having to "grow up in a world where this is still present."
"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 realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing," Markle, 38, told the students at the Los Feliz, California school. "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 don't know."
“I wanted to say the right thing. I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing. George Floyds life mattered & Breonna Taylors life mattered & Philando Castiles life mattered & Tamir Rices life mattered & so did so many other people” — Meghan Markle #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/KeIxkkooCc— michelle (@ddarveyy) June 4, 2020
Markle went on to share a message a teacher told her when she was a sophomore. "Always remember to put others' needs above your own fears," she said, adding that the message has "stuck with me through my entire life." She has "thought about it more in the last week than ever before," Markle said. Although she was only 10 years old at the time, Markle said she could vividly remember the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
"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 and seeing people run out of buildings carrying bags and looting," Markle shared. "And I remember seeing men in the back of a van holding guns and rifles. And I remember pulling up to the house and seeing the tree that had always been there completely charred." Memories like those will never fade, Markle said.
At the end of her speech, Markle, who shares 1-year-old son Archie with Prince Harry, tried to offer hope, telling the students they can lead with love, compassion, and their own voice. "You're going to use your voice in a stronger way than you've ever been able to because most of you are 18 or you're going to turn 18, so you're going to vote," she said. They will also have "empathy" for those who see the world differently because "with as diverse, vibrant and opened-minded as I know the teachings at Immaculate Heart are, I know you know that black lives matter... You are equipped, you are ready, we need you, and you’re prepared."
George Floyd died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground by keeping his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers involved were fired and were charged with second-degree unintentional murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.