NPR Launches Database of Best Commencement Speeches Ever

best grad speeches npr

NPR has created a brand new commencement speech database, “an inspiration machine full of wise and funny words going back to 1774.” You can search the database by name, school, date or theme. Take a spin and you will find speeches by Adrienne Rich at Douglass College (1977), the Dalai Lama at Tulane (2013), David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College (2005), J.K. Rowling at Harvard  (2008), Jill Abramson at Wake Forest (2014), Joseph Brodsky at U. of Michigan (1988), Ray Bradbury at Caltech (2000) and much more. Most of the speeches are presented in text format, some in video.

On NPR’s blog, they’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways from the long history of commencement speeches: Be kind, dream, remember history, embrace failure, don’t give up, etc.  Right above, you can see NPR’s new animation featuring former Clinton and Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett at Pitzer College’s commencement.

Related Content:

“Wear Sunscreen”: The Story Behind the Commencement Speech That Kurt Vonnegut Never Gave

Dissident Poet Joseph Brodsky Gives Six Life Tips to College Grads (1988)

‘This Is Water’: Complete Audio of David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon Graduation Speech (2005)

Meryl Streep Gives Graduation Speech at Barnard

Neil Gaiman Gives Graduates 10 Essential Tips for Working in the Arts

David Byrne’s Graduation Speech Offers Troubling and Encouraging Advice for Students in the Arts



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  1. Louis Vassallo says . . . | May 24, 2014 / 5:53 am

    Please email me A. Huffington’s 2013 Commencement address

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