High school senior calls for commencement speech from Obama due to coronavirus impact

LOS ANGELES (Gray News) – A high school senior in Los Angeles hopes for an inspirational message for the class of 2020 from former President Barack Obama, one he requested be delivered in a digital commencement address in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lincoln Debenham, 17, tweeted Tuesday to urge Obama to deliver “a national commencement speech” digitally for the class of 2020, many of whom will miss out on milestone events such as prom and graduation, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Debenham himself is a graduating senior from Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles. He told CNN that Obama is an icon to his generation. He composed his request with the help of his older brother Eli after hearing that Obama had endorsed his vice president, Joe Biden, for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I just heard how he talked and remembered that’s the leader… from when I was a kid, and I think everybody, or at least most people from 2020, can remember fondly as our role model and someone who really influenced us to be the people we are today,” Debenham told KCBS. “I just feel like maybe a message that inspires young people to just keep going and not give up, that might be good.”

Katie Hill, a spokeswoman for Obama, told CNN the team was aware of Debenham’s tweet, which has received more than 45,000 retweets and 221,000 likes, and was “very flattered” by the request. She declined to comment further.

Obama gave several commencement addresses while he was president but none since he left office.