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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