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.