Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Speech

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 772 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 772|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Empowerment and Resilience
  2. Social Justice and Activism
  3. Unity and Solidarity
  4. Rhetorical Analysis
  5. Conclusion

Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, delivered a powerful and inspiring commencement speech at the 2020 “Dear Class of 2020” virtual graduation ceremony. In her speech, Obama addressed the graduating students with words of encouragement, wisdom, and empowerment. This essay will critically analyze and deconstruct the key themes, rhetoric, and delivery of Michelle Obama’s commencement speech, highlighting its effectiveness and impact on the audience.

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Empowerment and Resilience

One of the central themes of Michelle Obama’s commencement speech is empowerment and resilience. Throughout her address, Obama emphasizes the importance of resilience in the face of adversity. She shares personal anecdotes and experiences to illustrate how resilience and perseverance have shaped her own journey. For example, she discusses the challenges she faced as the first African American First Lady and the scrutiny she endured in the public eye.

Furthermore, Obama encourages the graduating students to embrace their own resilience and to view challenges as opportunities for growth. She emphasizes the importance of believing in oneself and not allowing setbacks to define one’s potential. This theme of empowerment and resilience resonates with the audience, as it acknowledges the difficulties they may face in the future while instilling a sense of strength and determination.

Social Justice and Activism

In her commencement speech, Michelle Obama also addresses the importance of social justice and activism. She calls upon the graduating class to be agents of change in their communities and to stand up for justice and equality. Obama highlights the power of young people in driving social and political change, citing examples of youth-led movements that have made a significant impact in recent years.

By incorporating themes of social justice and activism into her speech, Obama effectively appeals to the social consciousness of the graduating students. She urges them to use their voices and talents to advocate for causes they believe in and to work towards creating a more just and equitable society. This call to action aligns with the current social and political climate, resonating with the audience and inspiring them to be proactive in effecting positive change.

Unity and Solidarity

Another key theme in Michelle Obama’s commencement speech is unity and solidarity. She emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community, particularly in times of hardship and division. Obama acknowledges the challenges that the graduating class is facing, including the global pandemic and social unrest, and urges them to find strength in unity and support one another.

By promoting the values of unity and solidarity, Obama fosters a sense of camaraderie and togetherness among the graduating students. She encourages them to look out for one another, to empathize with those who are marginalized, and to work towards building a more inclusive and compassionate society. This message of unity resonates with the audience, providing them with a sense of hope and collective purpose as they embark on their future endeavors.

Rhetorical Analysis

In addition to the thematic analysis, it is crucial to examine the rhetorical strategies employed by Michelle Obama in her commencement speech. Throughout her address, Obama demonstrates a mastery of rhetorical devices, including the use of personal anecdotes, emotional appeals, and inclusive language. Her storytelling creates a sense of intimacy and relatability, allowing the audience to connect with her on a personal level.

Furthermore, Obama’s use of emotional appeals, such as expressing vulnerability and empathy, resonates with the audience and elicits an emotional response. By sharing her own experiences and struggles, she humanizes herself and creates a sense of empathy and understanding among the graduating students. This emotional connection enhances the impact of her message, making it more compelling and memorable.

Moreover, Obama’s inclusive language and inclusive pronouns, such as “we” and “us,” create a sense of collective identity and shared responsibility. By addressing the audience as a unified group, she fosters a sense of community and solidarity, reinforcing the themes of unity and empowerment in her speech.


Michelle Obama’s commencement speech at the 2020 “Dear Class of 2020” virtual graduation ceremony is a powerful and impactful address that resonates with the graduating students. Through the themes of empowerment, social justice, unity, and resilience, Obama delivers a message of hope, inspiration, and empowerment. Her effective use of rhetorical devices and emotional appeals enhances the impact of her speech, creating a memorable and compelling address that leaves a lasting impression on the audience.

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Overall, Michelle Obama’s commencement speech serves as a testament to the power of words and the ability of a speaker to inspire and empower others. Her message of resilience, social justice, and unity resonates with the graduating class, providing them with the encouragement and motivation to embrace the challenges ahead and to work towards creating a better future for themselves and their communities.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Speech. (2024, March 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Speech.” GradesFixer, 15 Mar. 2024,
Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Speech. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Speech [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 15 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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