Teen Asks Barack Obama to Give National Commencement Speech During Coronavirus Epidemic

The teen says Obama would be inspirational to graduates during coronavirus.

A 17-year-old California high school student took it upon himself to invite a former president to address graduates across the country during this frightening coronavirus pandemic. Lincoln Debenham had seen former President Barack Obama's recent video endorsement of his former Vice President, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in the 2020 race.

"I remembered what a great speaker he was and that message of hope that he always delivers with everything," Debenham told InsideEdition.com.  And he thought, why not just ask the 44th president of the United States to offer some hope in these uncharted times to his fellow graduates?

And so he did, in the form of a tweet.


He hasn't heard anything back, but he takes that as a good sign. At least, he said, they've seen his invitation. CNN reached out to Obama's people, Debenham said. "They're very flattered. No further comment."

With commencement exercises postponed because of social distancing, Debenham started an online campaign to have Obama tape a national commencement speech for 2020 graduates.

"It's not just that we don't get a ceremony," the teen said. "It's that we're graduating into an uncertain world. A lot of people are graduating to new levels of education not knowing" if their colleges will be open. 

Students are uneasy, he said, after seeing their schools close and treasured activities such as prom being canceled.

"We felt bad about being sad that we're not going to get a prom," he said. His fellow students realized their concerns may seem small compared to the bigger consequences of a health emergency. "People are dying, people are getting sick, people are losing jobs," he continued. "The economy is not going so well. So we felt bad about feeling bad.

"Just as long as you don't minimize the struggles of other people, you can feel bad."