Jenkins delivered the keynote for Tuesday’s online graduation ceremony for the School District of Philadelphia.
It's been a tumultuous year for the Class of 2020. They have endured asbestos closing their school buildings, the coronavirus pandemic pausing in-person instruction, and protests surrounding racial injustice. Resilience has become a theme for students at the district’s 54 high schools.
“Given all that has happened, it is most appropriate to have Malcolm Jenkins as the keynote speaker,” said Superintendent William Hite.
The former Eagles safety said students handled this year of uncertainty and unrest with poise.
“Generations before us have gone through tough times before: slavery, Civil War, deadly viruses, the Great Depression, 9/11. We’ve been able to get through it because we’re learned from our mistakes, and our youth were resilient and saw new ones to do things differently — and were successful,” he said.
The current New Orleans Saints player still remains part of the Philadelphia community — he marched in Philly over the weekend during the George Floyd protests.
“It is our civic duty to understand who is making decisions on our behalf, and letting them know what is important to us: to have a safe community. One that offers us employment, housing and resources — in good times and times like this, when we need our police to work alongside us,” he added.
Jenkins said a member of the Class of 2020 may even be the next mayor, the next City Council president, or the next police commissioner. That may seem far away for them right now, but he advised the new grads to start by registering to vote, talking to their parents, and using their voices to impact the community — the way they want their community to be.
The ceremony also featured student performances, a speech from Mayor Jim Kenney, and “Pomp and Circumstance” performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra.