Meghan Markle tried to connect to some young adults regarding the death of George Floyd -- and the broader issues of racism and police brutality -- In a speech via video Wednesday to graduates of her old high school in Los Angeles.
“Because 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 don't know,” Markle told the class, according to BuzzFeed News. “Stephon Clark, his life mattered.”
"I know you know that black lives matter," she added.
The 38-year-old Duchess of Sussex was speaking to graduates of Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School, which she attended in her youth.
Her speech came as her California hometown and other cities across the U.S. continued to see protests, violence and looting following the May 25 death of Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody.
“Immaculate Heart High School, graduating class of 2020, for the past couple of weeks, I've been planning on saying a few words to you for your graduation and as we all have seen over the past few weeks, what is happening in our country and in our state and in our hometown of L.A. has been absolutely devastating,” she began.
“And I wasn't sure what I could say to you," she said. "I wanted to say the right thing. And I was really nervous that I wouldn’t, or that it would get picked apart, and I realized — the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.”
The duchess compared the events of the past week with those she experienced when she was a young girl in 1992, when Los Angeles erupted in riots following the acquittal of police officers who had been charged in the beating of Rodney King in 1991.
"I was 11 or 12 years old when I was just about to start IHMS in the fall and it was the LA riots, which were also triggered by a senseless act of racism," she said.
"I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home -- and on that drive home seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke, and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings and seeing people run out buildings and looting and seeing men in the back of the van just holding guns and rifles."
“That’s something you should have an understanding of,” she added, “but an understanding of as a history lesson, not as your reality."
Markle – whose mother is African-American and whose father is white – has sometimes found herself to be the subject of discussions about racial relations.
In January, the Sunday Times of London reported that Queen Elizabeth feared Markle might accuse the British royal family of racism if the request by Markle and Prince Harry to reduce their status wasn’t accepted.
Earlier that month, Harry and Markle announced their decision to become part-time members of the royal family in order to live between the U.K. and North America while earning their own income.
In March they relocated to Los Angeles after briefly living in Canada.
Markle closed her speech to the graduates with some wishes for the future – and an urging that they begin voting now that most of them were 18.
"You are equipped, you are ready, we need you, and you’re prepared," she said, according to BuzzFeed News.