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Watch: Harvard graduate gives poetic convocation speech

One Harvard graduate’s poetic and poignant graduation speech that tackled race and education has gone viral.

Donovan Livingston, a 2016 graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, performed spoken-word poetry, telling the crowd at a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, “For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time. How many times must we be made to feel like quotas?”

His poem referenced how slaves could be punished to death if they were caught trying to educate themselves. He said that divisiveness in American education continues to this day, and that he represented “a movement, an amalgam of memories America would care to forget.”


“Beyond your curriculum, beyond your standards, I stand here, a manifestation of love and pain, with veins pumping revolution,” he said. “I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree.”

Education, Livingston said, “is no equalizer.”

“Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream,” he said, before imploring the crowd to wake up.

“Together we can inspire galaxies of greatness for generations to come,” he concluded. “So no, no, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning. Lift off.”

As of Thursday night, the speech, posted to the school’s Facebook page, had been viewed more than 2.9 million times and shared more than 74,000 times.