John Legend gives opening speech at Duke University graduation

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John Legend delivered the speech Sunday at Duke University’s graduation at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

“You know, I feel good because today, because this is the first time I’ve heard live applause in front of a live audience since February, 14 months ago,” the 42-year-old singer said in his speech.

The legend was about the hard times for the graduates in the aftermath of a year plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest: John Legend, 42, gave the starting address Sunday upon graduation from Duke University at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina

“Your class has lost a lot: some lost vacancies, some lost loved ones, and you all lost a whole year those little moments that make college so special,” Legend said.

‘I feel your pain: you have lost something that you will not get back. I will not soften that – it sucks. ‘

The EGOT winner, who also received an honorary degree from the institution, complimented the student on his resilience in the tough times.

“The fact that you are here today, graduates of one of the world’s greatest universities, means that you have had to approach life with a certain competitive edge,” said the All of Me singer. ‘But last year you were forced to pause, to see yourself not only in competition with each other, but in fellowship with each other.

Legend pointed to the unprecedented nature of the past year amid the shutdown and the precautions people were taking to quell the pandemic.

Return to normal: Legend said Sunday's event was its first time in 14 months in front of a live audience

Return to normal: Legend said Sunday’s event was its first time in 14 months in front of a live audience

Legend pointed to the unprecedented nature of the past year amid the shutdown and the precautions people were taking to quell the pandemic

Legend pointed to the unprecedented nature of the past year amid the shutdown and the precautions people were taking to quell the pandemic

Graduation Day: The EGOT winner posed in a blue robe during the ceremony

Graduation Day: The EGOT winner posed in a blue robe during the ceremony

“Anyone who got sick was a risk to everyone,” he said. ‘We all had to slow down, socialize, cover our faces, stop filling our days with maximum productivity and just keep each other safe, keep each other alive, take care of each other.’

The legend drew on his own academic past in which he graduated second in his high school class and progressed to the University of Pennsylvania.

“This perspective you’ve gained will serve all of us, because while that competitive drive that brought you here can be an incredible gift, it can also get in the way,” he said.

Legend set forth truths that came to light when learning US history and how to proceed with the lessons that follow.

America’s story has always been marred by attempts to exclude, dominate, subdue and retain certain groups of people without a voice, without power, and without opportunity: workers, women, indigenous people, black people, immigrants, the LGBTQ- community, ‘he said. ‘All out of fear that if those people did better, someone else would have to lose.

Flashback: Legend had hit campus in 2004 for a Last Day of Classes concert with Kanye West

Flashback: Legend had hit campus in 2004 for a Last Day of Classes concert with Kanye West

But the wonder of our story is that as we expanded our opportunities, we proved in our best moments that those fears were unfounded. As more people made more money, wealthy entrepreneurs didn’t suffer but got more customers. Prosperity has increased for everyone. ‘

The singer said that ‘once we recognize our interdependence, our reciprocity, it is clear that love is exactly what our society needs.’

The legend had appeared on campus in 2004 for a Last Day of Classes concert with Kanye West.

Vincent Price, President of Duke University, said in a statement, “ We are delighted to have John Legend as our speaker at the start of the undergraduate – and to have such an extraordinary group of honorary degree recipients, each providing a transformational contributed to our understanding of the world. ‘

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