After 42 years, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has become the first black woman to deliver a Commencement Day speech at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1978, was when then-US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Patricia Harris did so.

The announcement was made by the Vice President and University Secretary Medha Narvekar.

“We are honored to bestow our highest degree on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and have her address our graduates at Penn’s 264th Commencement,” said President Amy Gutmann. “Her compelling narratives and absolutely fascinating commentary on complex cultural issues elevate the power of the individual voice.”

Chimamanda spoke virtually to the class of 2020, who chose her as their Commencement Day speaker, telling them about what strange times we live in.

These may be strange times – they certainly are for me – but I want to urge you to remember that there is so much to celebrate. You’ve done it. You’ve graduated. Congratulations.

She will be speaking physically to the UPenn class of 2020 on May 22 and 23, 2021, as those dates have been confirmed as the 264th Commencement Day event.

Watch her give her speech below:


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