Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, spoke publicly for the first time about George Floyd's death. She was speaking to the graduating class of Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, in a video message commencement speech.
Duchess of Sussex reflects on lingering racial injustices in US
02:39 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has delivered a personal message on the death of George Floyd, describing what is happening in the United States as “absolutely devastating.”

The Duchess said she felt compelled to address the impact of his death while speaking to the graduating class of her former Los Angeles high school during a virtual commencement speech on Wednesday evening.

Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in police custody after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. His death has sparked nationwide and international protests.

Meghan admitted she was “really nervous” about speaking on the issue, but soon realized that “the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.”

“George Floyd’s life mattered and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered and Philando Castile’s life mattered, and Tamir Rice’s life mattered,” she told the students of Immaculate Heart High in Los Angeles in the six-minute message.

The Duchess, who stepped back with her husband Prince Harry from royal duties in March, also referred to the lives of “so many other people” whose names we do not know.

During the video, the former “Suits” star recalled her memories of the 1992 Los Angeles riots which were “triggered by a senseless act of racism.” Meghan spoke of her regret that things had not changed since then.

The riots stemmed from the acquittal of four white Los Angeles Police Department officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King in 1991.

“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,” she said.

“Seeing people run out of buildings carrying bags and looting and I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles.”

Meghan apologized to students for not getting the world “to a place where you deserve it to be.”

She added that students should have an understanding of that type of experience “as a history lesson, not as your reality.”

Meghan concluded her message on a note of optimism, highlighting that people still “stand in solidarity” despite the race riots. “We are seeing communities come together and to uplift,” she said. “You are going to be part of this movement.”

The former actress then urged the graduates to use their voices and become the leaders “we all so deeply crave.”

“I am so proud to call each of you a fellow alumni and I’m so eager to see what you are going to do. Please know that I’m cheering you on all along the way,” she said.

“I know you know that black lives matter, so I am already excited for what you are going to do in the world, you are equipped, you are ready, we need you and you are prepared.”