During a virtual address of her alma mater, Meghan Markle told graduating seniors to use their voice during this time of protest against racism in the United States.
The Duchess of Sussex paid tribute to victims of police violence during her speech to the Class of 2020 at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles.
“George Floyd’s life mattered and Breonna Taylor’s life mattered and Philando Castile’s life mattered and Tamir Rice’s life mattered, and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know,” Markle said.
Markle told the graduates she had been nervous to speak to them, because she didn’t want to say the wrong thing.
“But then I realized the only wrong thing to say, is to say nothing,” she told the graduates.
Markle compared the current protests to 1992, when police officers were acquitted of beating motorist Rodney King, which she called a “senseless act of racism.”
“I remember rushing back home, and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky,” she said. “I remember seeing men in the back of a van holding guns and rifles. I remember pulling up to the house and seeing the tree that had always been there completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.”
She continued: “That’s something that you should have an understanding of, but an understanding of as a history lesson, not as your reality.”
The Duchess, who moved back to the United States with her husband, Prince Harry, and their son, Archie, faced racism while living in England.
Harry said Markle had been abused and harassed.
"Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments," his statement read. "Some of it has been hidden from the public — the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend; the bombardment of nearly every friend, co-worker, and loved one in her life."
Even members of the royal family took what some perceived as “shots” at Markle.
People reported in 2017 that paparazzi photos taken before the Queen’s annual Christmas lunch show Princess Michael of Kent wearing a brooch that looked like blackamoor jewelry. It appears to have been a bust of a black person with a gold and bejeweled crown and clothing.
The princess is married to Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s first cousin, and the lunch was attended by Markle and Harry.
And after their son’s birth, a BBC radio host tweeted a racist photo that compared the boy to a chimpanzee.
Harry and Markle left the U.K. for Canada, then moved to Los Angeles in March before the U.S. and Canada closed their border to help prevent the spread of the coronavrus.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.