Entire Text, Video and Audio of J.K. Rowling Harvard Commencement Speech Now Online

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Jun 05, 2008

Posted by SueTLC
Uncategorized

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better. “

So said Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling today as she delivered a moving commencement speech at Harvard University today, focusing on failure and the power of imagination. You can read the entire text of the speech via this link, with an audio version of the speech onine as well. Update: We now have the video of the entire speech here in our galleries.

In an inspiring speech where she reflected back on her own graduation, her early failures and struggles as a single mother before achieving success with the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling noted that “Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools. What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure. ”

“However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew. “

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default. Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.”

Jo continued on to note that post-graduation, working for Amnesty International was “one of the greatest formative experiences of my life” and “it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. ” She recalled one powerful incident as she reflected saying “I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.”

J.K. Rowling then went on to emphasize how important imagination is in overcoming failures horrors like the story she recalled and how it can impact the graduates she was addressing. Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid. What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy. One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.





101 Responses to Entire Text, Video and Audio of J.K. Rowling Harvard Commencement Speech Now Online

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I was lucky enough to watch her comments live. As always, she was poised and funny and beautiful.

She did a lovely job.

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I watched it live. It was incredible.

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I bet that is the “before” version of the speech, because she said “worlds largest Gryffindor reunion” and not “Potterconvention”...

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Great job Jo. I wasn’t there but the script shows that you use brilliant and eloquent words which truly have shown some of the many faults and needs of the world and the human condition.

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Absolutely the best commencement address I’ve ever heard. (And I had to laugh about her comments of reflecting on the speaker at her own commencement. She’s right, I don’t remember anything that was said at any of my commencements either.)

But I think that she had some wonderful things to say that will be remembered, by the graduates and all the rest of us.

And it was great to be able to watch it, so thanks TLC for the link to the streaming video.

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Fantastic! I love it.

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LadyM, it is indeed the “before” version: at the bottom of the web page it says : “(Text as prepared for delivery).” She definitely said the world’s “largest Gryffindor reunion,” which I like much better than “best-educated Harry Potter convention.”

Thank you Jo! That was so incredibly moving and inspiring.

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That was great:) Bravo ! ;]

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My friend and I were second row, mere yards from her. It was an incredible experience, and an incredible speech.

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Hmmm…judging by the errors I saw in the transcription, perhaps TLC should loan the services of some transcription elves to Harvard Magazine.

Enjoyed the speech, though…

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Poor Jo, she looked soo terrified before she spoke ! But gorgeous. Good Speech: 1. Fail,... faill and learn things you would never have elsewise! 2. Use your intelligence to “feel” for other people and help them, because they can’t.

Sorry, but it reminds me a bit of Spiderman: Great power bears great responsibility. (too bad I can only remember this from Spiderman, it is a good saying though.)

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Oh I wanted so much to be there! Still, it was a definite pleasure reading her brilliant words, and I can’t wait to watch the video when I get home from work.

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Wow. THAT was incredible. I’ve been looking for a quote to put next to my senior picture in the year book next year and i’ve found it “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” Again WOW. I love Jo so much.

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I’m a similar age to Jo. Had I heard such an inspiring, entertaining and moving speech as that 20 years ago, I’m sure I’d still remember it – more than the Gay Wizard bit too! It was great.

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oh my God…I can’t find enough words for this…she’s so smart and lovely….she’s the best

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Wow, Jo is so inspiring! I wish I could have watched it live, but the fact that even her speech in print can move so many people proves just how amazing a lady she is. After reading this speech, I really want to go out into the community to help people less fortunate than I am (that story about the man is so heartbreaking!). You’re wonderful, Jo!

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I can’t even put into words how much I love this woman =)

Leaky, do you know if you’ll have the video of Jo receiving her degree? That’s the bit I missed!

Jo pleeease come back to Exeter and make sure we don’t suffer a boring graduation speech like you did! =P

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Very good speech: We all could take it to heart. By the way, did anyone else want to hear the “Fair Harvard” song? Tee hee.

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jo just never ceases to amaze me. I am in tears after reading that. Amazing. I can’t think of anyone who has ever made such an impact on my life, other than my mom.

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@ HeglaHufflepimp that is a great quote, one in which I am sure you will remember for years to come.

@ Ethan I completely agree JK Rowling’s ability to captivate and attenuate her audience to better the human condition is far more inspiring than I can put into words.

As I was having a rather downer day realzing that the branch to which I work is now being closed down, and no job prospects insight, as well as only year to go and I complete my B.S…I felt as if I was the biggest failure in my parent’s eyes. Something I am sure many have felt or will feel at some point in their lives, so how brilliant of her to portray that message. Knowing that I can still obtain the achievements I seek to better not only myself but those around me, I am cheered and comforted. Although, I am aware I wasn’t her sole audience, lol, but I hope she reads through these comments on Leaky to realize how much she has inspired us all!! Studying Neuropsychology I always took fascination with human’s unique ability to empathize and how just by existing we affect other’s lives, what a humbling and wonderfully inspirational idea to part with on graduation day.

Also I admire how she added the bit of Dumbledore and Snape’s contrasting characteristics, and the uses of Legilmency differing between Harry and Voldemort. How Harry saw into Snape’s mind and could overlook that overwhelming feelings of anonimosity and finally experience humility of his father and empathy for Snape was wonderfully well written.

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Brilliant, but I expected nothing less. From the heart, an eloquent address about compassion and imagination, and the courage to fail that will only empower as long as you stay true to yourself. She’s awesome.

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Awesome, as always! Bravo Jo!

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Best speech ever. Too inspirational to put into words. That is all.

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I just graduated high school, and had to sit through some waffle about the Wizard of Oz (the speaker was unfamiliar with Wicked so her comments seemed silly) but this speech has made up for that. Jo gave such a fabulous speech that I will remember much more than the one given at my high school graduation. Thank you Jo. You are so wonderful, and your words will be with us all forever.

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As a member of Harvard’c Class of 2008 I’d say we were very lucky to have her. Alums who saw the “Marshall Plan” speech by George Marshall in 1947 said this was better. She was tremendous, and the standing o was a lot bigger than it seemed on webcast.

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As a member of Harvard’s Class of 2008 I’d say we were very lucky to have her. Alums who saw the “Marshall Plan” speech by George Marshall in 1947 said this was better. She was tremendous, and the standing o was a lot bigger than it seemed on webcast.

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This is why I am a JK Rowling fan, and not just a Harry Potter fan. She is a Goddess. This was such a powerful speech that I just cant help getting emotional over it.

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I watched it live on the web cast and i have to say that was the best speech i have ever heard or read (Which includes Mark Twain, Bill Cosby, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) Her comments really make you step back and look at not only how good some of our lives are, but how bad other peoples are in other parts of the world. Hopefully it will inspire other to see how things need to change.

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It was wonderful being there. My husband loved the speech too and he was there because I’m the fan. We were as close as any non alumni could be, have a very nice digital camera and came away with 9 email addresses of people around us. I just finished sending them 4 nice pictures. The other thing was all the kids who came to hear Jo clutching books in their hands and reading them while they waited to see her.

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J. K. Rowling was a poor choice to give Harvard’s commencement speech, and she proved why today.

How long is she going to ride that old “poverty” story-train, anyway? Honestly. A middle class teacher with a college degree down and out for a few months is nothing compared to the millions of people who are trapped in generations of poverty and have never known, nor can expect to know in the future, anything else. She still doesn’t get it. And she didn’t work for Amnesty International that long, either. Her short time there gave her nightmares? Oooh. How troubling. Does a few short months of experience and the nightmares she “suffered” as a result qualify her to speak for the plight of prisoners around the world and admonish American Harvard grads for working harder at their educations than she did? Hypocrisy and gall drips from her pen more than ink.

The “gay wizard” comment has also been way overplayed. “Poor” single mum gets rich and donates money to the poor. Sure, ok. But then she pretends to be an activist liberal who stands up for gay rights (when she was too cowardly to say IN THE BOOKS that a major character was, oh by the way, gay). Come on, folks, J. K. Rowling needs to find a new shtick. She’s already proving with the Waterstone benefit that she can’t write even a small card’s worth of words on something that isn’t Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling is a one-hit wonder.

What was even more funny was that the speech was obviously written to the graduates whom she must have envisioned would be sitting right in front of her, but the event actually ended up with the oldest alumni sitting down front with the years extending backwards. That meant that this year’s graduates were toward the very back. Her attempt at jokes didn’t carry down front too well with the Class of ’23 set.

She mentioned that her friends from college are kind enough not to “sue” her for using their names as Death Eaters. If so, they have not done her any favors. Maybe if one of them would sue, she’d finally see how ridiculous all of her frivolous lawsuits are around the world. She worries about “monsters” gaining too much control? The world has never seen a high-profile writer who desires more control than J. K. Rowling.

I agree that you don’t have to be the president of a company or a CEO of a corporation to make a reasonably good commencement speech. A good writer can handle the job as well as anyone. However, I gather from hearing the opinions of Harvard students that many of the graduates were disappointed, angry, and unhappy that Rowling was given this honor. I agree that they should have made another choice. Rowling’s hypocritical and same-old sorry speech proves why.

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Dr. No, have neither the time nor the inclination to answer your drivel point by point. Instead, I say…lol.

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TROLL in the Dungeon!! TROLL in the Dungeon!!

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What a brilliant speech. That is possibly the greatest commencement speech I’ve ever heard. Left me in tears and smiling. I graduate high school in just a year from now, and what with all the seniors from my school graduating yesterday it’s a very strange feeling.

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Well, I am sure those graduates don’t speak for the whole of the graduating class because we have positive feedback here from others who attended, and it sounded like she received a standing ovation. I think if I had the amazing story of rising out of poverty that she did I would take pride in it as well. There are lessons to be learned from it and people should see it as a source of inspiration.

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Ahh, Dr. No, her speech was written to the graduates of course – that’s who commencement speeches are written for. The speaker does not have to give a thought to the alumni in the crowd. Also, out of curiosity, where have you heard these opinions of Harvard Students, when, and how many? How old are you, where do you work and what have the hardships been in your own life? If you are going to criticize based on these facts, I need some background on whether to take your opinion seriously or not.

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I was brought to tears by her speech. Here is a woman of incredible reknown, yet you could tell she was in awe of her position that stage amongst the “Dons” and other academia. She was slightly nervous, which made it even more touching to hear Ms. Rowling speak. Bravo, Jo!

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outstanding.

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Brava! Bravisima Jo!

OMT

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Considering Dr. No’s comments and what he said of other Harvard grads, I am disappointed, angry, and unhappy that Harvard was given this honor. Rowling should have made another choice. Dr. No’s inane, whiny post proves why.

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I agree with Dr. No. She should have spoken about what she knows most about—writing books and seeing them be successful. She is an artist, not a political activist, and she should not have preached to the graduates as though she worked for years in impoverished countries as a missionary, or something like that. The speech was too preachy and hypocritical for her experience and relied on old stories and themes we already know. She went through hard times nearly 15 years ago now! Even though I didn’t want her to be the speaker in the first place, I could have respected her if she had stayed within what she knows and gave advice based on that. She can give lots of money to charity now because she was lucky that she sold a lot of books, and she has it to give. I’m glad she donates to charity. But not every Harvard graduate is rich—in fact, a lot of them are more poor now with loans to pay back after 4 years of Harvard tuition!

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Her speech was absolutely wonderful!

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Dr. No’s comment is so obviously motivated by a grudge, it should just be ignored. And peeved, there’s nothing hypocritical in speaking about your own experiences and what you have learned from them. She actually GAVE advice on what she knew, so why are you complaining? Could it be another grudge? See, THAT would be hypocritical.

Posts like those make me love Rowling’s speech even more, because it illuminates us on what really matters – or SHOULD matter – in this world, not the silly internet feud haters like Dr. No and peeved like to revel in because of their insatisfaction over a work of fiction.

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@Loader Lady

I envy you being able to attend the commencement today. Watched JKR on video and thought she was very moving, funny and clever, as always.

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@ Dr No

I was at the commencement today with 3 of my friends who are not big Potter fans at all, and they all loved the speech. Plus she got a full two minute standing ovation from everyone there, most of whom probably haven’t read a single one of her books.

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WOW! No wonder we all love this woman…pretty sure I’ve never been moved to tears at a commencement address before! Thanks for the coverage Leaky!

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I have no doubt, barring the presence of Voldemort, if Harry, Ron and Hermione and the rest of their cohort had completed their magical education at Hogwarts, THAT would have been exactly the kind of speech Dumbledore would have given on their graduation day.

Moving, witty and inspiring indeed. I laughed at the start of the speech, teared up near the middle of it and felt tremendously grateful for having had the chance to listen to this her, by the end of it.

Who else, but J.K. Rowling can do all that to you within the space of 23 minutes?

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The Harvard graduates of 2008 are the kids who grew up with Harry. They were around the same age as Harry, 11, when the first book came out. Unlike someone’s earlier comment, my guess is that many of the students there were/are avid readers of the series. The fact that several of them have already checked out the speech on Leaky and made comments, I think bares this out.

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Ms. Rowling’s speech today made it sound like her success came about entirely through her own efforts after learning from her failures. She did not mention the people who helped her become so successful or the fact that she was just downright lucky that her books were popular and sold so well. Her lack of humility surprised my circle of friends, and we grew up with the Potter books. The speech was uninspiring, to say the least, which was disappointing coming from an author we had liked when we were kids. I guess she is better at writing novels than speeches!

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So inspiring. Even though I’m a Rowling fan, I was still surprised by how moved I was when I read the transcript. Commencement speeches normally don’t do that! Mine a few weeks ago was…good, I think. Actually, it was pretty good now that I think about it, but I was watching it from home while holding my week-old baby, so I was a little preoccupied. :]

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‘Cambridge coed’, I’m absolutely sure JKR has been more than thankful to all the people in her life that have helped to support and encourage her and I am absolutely sure THEY know it, even if YOU somehow feel neglected to have been privy to it. She has mentioned them in many interviews and documentaries. And in case you missed it last year, she literally hand-wrote 7( or was it 6?) copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, had their covers encrusted with semi-precious stones and said that she dedicated and gave them to the same people you said she should be thankful to. One of those books was sold for charity at the highest ever price in history for a modern manuscript, in case you think its no big deal.

In accordance with your own opinion, if those people (presumably her immediate and closest family members and friends) who helped her become so successful even feel that they NEED to hear her acknowledge them, then they ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

And finally, on your jab that she was just ‘downright lucky’, luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get. It is something that occurs when preparation and opportunity meet. One-half of life is luck; the other half is discipline – and that’s the important half, for without discipline you wouldn’t know what to do with luck. So by your standards, ‘Cambridge coed’, J. K. Rowling has got to be the most disciplined person in the world as well. I’d very much like to see how YOU would handle it, if something as big as Harry Potter ever came down your alleyway…

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Well, I’ve watched it twice and read it once. It was a brilliant and moving speech. I particularly liked how her speech touched all the humanities: English literature, history, politics, economics, psychology, classics and philosophy.

And I swear I could put a name to both the Trolls with us tonight.

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I love J.K. Rowling. She is my hero! Her speech was charming, brilliant, profound and so personally relevant. It made my cry. I carried her words around with me today as my own personal cheering section.

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Come on people, we should at least be grateful to see a few new JKR haters venting on these boards. I was getting fed up of the same ones (where are you kitkat,secunda etc? lol.)

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J K Rowling is the most blazingly honest person I know. She was probably the most famous person at that gathering and possibly one of the richest, and has been the recipient of many awards and several honorary doctorates, yet she stood there and admitted that she had been terrfied by the enormity of the task she had been asked to perform. She does not put on a performance, she is herself and speaks from her heart, without pretention or airs and graces and with humour. It is these qualities that imbue her writing with its power to move us to joy and laughter, indignation, curiosity, breathless anticipation and tears. This is why her books sell in vast numbers to people of all ages across the world, and are read, re-read, analysed, discussed and read again. Her work has brought fortune and employment to many, many people, and bitterness and envy in the hearts of some shallow people. She puts her money and fame to very good use by supporting or founding charities who causes she cares about. I can think of no-one better to inspire new graduates at the commencement of their careers,

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A very inspiring and heartfelt speech, it has left me rather thoughtful and contemplative. I think that this speech can reach anyone – I’m only 14 and it has really got through to me. I am now thinking of getting a job at Amnesty International when I am older.

Thank you very much for such an excellent speech Jo!

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I am amazed at how little I know or understand of our world, and how much I have to learn. I am thankful for the lesson.

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wow. she is amazing..

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@ Peeved @ Dr. No

Bono is a singer, also started charities when he didn’t have to. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. earned his PhD in Philosophy, not in civil rights but that’s what he moved to inspire. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi a.k.a. Mahatma Gandhi was a lawyer, who spoke of peace and non-violence( 2 things he never saw in his life time, but spoke of them anyway). John Lennon, also a singer, always spoke of peace, love,and understanding.Bill Gates is a Harvard dropout who now gives Scholarships so people can go to collage, would you call him a hypocrite. I once heard a speech by General Colin Powell, at U of D, it was about a childrens charity, are we now saying that he can’t do that because hes a General , not a social worker. It really is amazing how many people do things other than what they are trained for and famous for. its people like her and the ones i mentioned above that we need more of in the world.

To quote a line from a Nicholas Cage movie,”...Those who have the ability to take action, have the responsibility to take action.”

I would rather her have explained her Characters sexual orientation after the fact than trying to explain it to my 8 year old what it means to be gay. You sit there and say shes a one hit wonder when that all she said she ever wanted to write was this series.Not to mention she spoke of something that i am almost positive that no one has ever done before, FAILURE, most speeches of this nature are pointed at success and looking to the future, it is a part of everyday life that, like she said most of them have not had to deal with before, and now that they are going out there on their own(in the real world) it was a good word of warning, not everyone can bursh off failure like dandruff. Being an American vet i can say for a FACT that even hearing some of the things she heard second hand, and viewing some of the tapes that she has seen(not the chopped up ones they show idiots like you on the news) can be Very unnerving. You have no idea what frame of mind anyone other than yourself can draw from any situation. now we have to deal with you 2 ignorant **cks, you say shes got gall, why don’t you look in the mirror.

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ootp sucks balls, who ever agues against me prepare for a beating, because i will win, this is wat a lovely man had to say before:

whats the point of including insignificant characters like the carrows in the sixth film, there names most likely will not even be mentioned in the film, they just be there for the sake of the fans, normal movie goers wont have a clue who they are plus why is lucius malfoy included in the slughorn memory scene. he wasn’t ther in the book. ow lets just put him in for the sake of it. the bigger the cast the better the movie, yeah. also why put regulus black in this film they could easily have placled him in the fifth,showing his family tree, a quick explanation is all thats needed. another thing, whats with the costuming and make up, the trio look like there ment to be on the cover of some designer teenage magazine. the film is supposed to be set in 1995 or 6. another,is why is harry’s hair so neat, the third and forth film captued the essence of the what the character really was. now we have this short haired neat looking boy. it the most “un-Harry-like” hairstyle so far. theys are small thins so why change them. if you look at the 5th film and then look at the other four, costume, music, make up, editing, acting and everything wise its completely different. to say the fifth film was the best is to say the rest of them were total rubbish. ow and the locket, wat are they going to do about the locket. are they going to just try to fit everything into the last 2films. the movie goers are going to have a head ache trying to remeber everything. the way the fifth film was made, was so that only fans could understand it. you dont make films for that purpose alone. please wb, you still have time, rethink on your decision, of yates for the last 2 films. i’m Ed Tom signing off.

Now i have been challenged before by someone tryin to deconstruct my evr point, but totally avoided what my points really infact. this is what Mugglethai had to say:

Seriously, what’s with all these complaining? It seems like some people enjoy complaining so much. First they complain about the lack of picture, now when new pics come out and they can’t find anything wrong with the pics, they just start complaining about other movie stuff completely unrelated to this news. I bet next month they will complain that there are too many pics.

Ed Tom, at least DO SOME RESEARCH before start your nitpicking:

- “plus why is lucius malfoy included in the slughorn memory scene. he wasn’t ther in the book. ow lets just put him in for the sake of it.”

The actor has already said that he will appear in an old Slug Club photo. That’s it. It is called ‘attention to detail’.

-“also why put regulus black in this film they could easily have placled him in the fifth,showing his family tree, a quick explanation is all thats needed.”

The actor gave an interview that he will appear in a photo in Slughorn office. By introducing him this way, the audience will know who he is and also GET TO SEE HIS FACE. You complain about the movie confusing those who are not fan. Well, THIS IS ONE WAY TO SOLVE THAT PROBLEM. If they just introduce Regulus the same way as in the book, movie goers will just forget about him by the time we get to DH. Now that they also show his face in the movie, it is likely that the audience will be less confused.

-“whats with the costuming and make up, the trio look like there ment to be on the cover of some designer teenage magazine. the film is supposed to be set in 1995 or 6.”

I don’t know about your taste in fashion. But to me, those clothes look like something you can see normal teenagers wearing everyday, which is what the kids are suppose to wear outside school (Harry and Hermione grow up in a muggle family, and it is mentioned in GOF that Weasley kids wear muggle clothes at home). We don’t even get a proper look at Ron and Harry’s clothes in that burrow pic, and Hermione’s clothes the same one (or the similar one) she wore in one deleted scene of POA.

-“why is harry’s hair so neat, the third and forth film captued the essence of the what the character really was. now we have this short haired neat looking boy. it the most “un-Harry-like” hairstyle so far.”

To me, it look far more messy than in the first 2 films.

-“whats the point of including insignificant characters like the carrows in the sixth film, there names most likely will not even be mentioned in the film, they just be there for the sake of the fans, normal movie goers wont have a clue who they are”

They are included in HBP because the have bigger role in DH. Yes, normal movie goers wont have a clue who they are BECAUSE THEY DON’T NEED TO. They just have to see these two characters as Voldemort’s minions and that’s it. Filmmakers need a bunch of Death Eaters for the battle at the end anyway. Why not include characters from the book instead of just a bunch of extras???

-“to say the fifth film was the best is to say the rest of them were total rubbish”

Just because two things are different doesn’t mean you can’t like both of them. I like both POA and OOTP for different reasons. I also like both HP and Narnia although they are different. I think HP is better, but that doesn’t mean Narnia is rubbish.

Now if you look closely to what im saying and what moron face is saying, her/his retaliations don’t make sense. they miss the point. Far better arguements could be made. oh and Suzy can stop sucking up to Muggletai, “Have you ever considered a career in law?”, God u r doing some over time on your ball sucking.

By the way this is not Ed Tom. Challenge me Muggletai. Challenge me!

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“no Ed Tom” please note, this comment section is for, and only for commenting on the new article it is attached to. take your irrelevant arguements to leaky lounge, not the new comments for a article that has nothing to do with your views of OotP and HBP.

I have to agree, when she started talking about failure, i was a little unsettled for a moment, as usually comencement speeches are suposed to talk about more uplifting things… but then she continued and it all made sense to me. I feel it was a brillent move, to break the mold, and ultimately end up being more poigent then any comencement speech I have ever heard.

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This is a great speech, absolutely one of a kind

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She is an absolutely incredible, brilliant brilliant woman! Hats off to you Jo, and that was a wonderful speech!

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The comments of Dr. No and Peeved only serve to affirm what Dr. Rowling said in her speech. Which in two nutshells is:

1. Learn from your mistakes 2. Be nice

You two fail at both and are the object lessons of the day.

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I just read the transcript and that was one hell of a speech!! It’s so touching, how she tells about her personal experiences. Truely inspiring!

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That was brilliant! Wish I had been there.

Does anyone know if she heard the bells? They were going to play Hedwigs Theme or something?

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That was so moving, I was crying. Amazing speech! I am 100% sure my commencement speaker – Boutros Boutros Ghali (Michigan 1986) – did not move me to tears. This meant something to those grads, they grew up with HP and they got to have a speaker that spoke to them and they will most likely listen to. More universities should try this. Sure they like to have politicos speak, it makes them seems illustrious, important, etc; but maybe more schools should actually try to inspire their grads, than impress them.

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I actually used her quote about failing by default in my critical lense essay today! It was about some quote similar to Jo’s about producing wisdom, though not nearly as inspiring. And I used Dumbledore as an example (despite our teacher telling us not to use HP :P ). So thanks Jo, for your help!

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Wow… great speech, Jo… makes me sad that I didn’t fork over the $37,000 a year for Harvard when I got in, I would have been graduating with my Masters there yesterday…

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I have to address some who may think her speech was hypocritical – and say why it wasn’t. For all those that are graduating now and are about 22 years old – look out – 20 years from now who will be amazed at how fast that 20 years went by. I am 42, JKR’s age apparantly, and I am in utter amazement that I was sitting and listening to a commencement speaker a full 20 years ago, it seems like yesterday. I wish I had someone like JKR tell me not to be afraid to fail – that’s exactly what led me to where I am today. I did what was expected of me, I was a very good student, top grades, etc. Went to law school at my parent’s urging, wanted to quit, but made the law review and was afraid to fail and disappoint. Now I am a lawyer and – I still hate it. Now however, I do feel stuck. With children to support in MA – a double income is necessary (husband is a public school teacher – he LOVES his job by the way), and I am lucky enough (at least this part is good) to have hours where I can be with my children when they are not in school. But, if I wish I knew 20 years ago, what I know now (isn’t that a trite saying, but it’s true) – I should have followed my own instincts about the best career for me and not have been afraid to fail (and I certainly do not blame my parents, they are wonderful, wonderful loving people who like most parents, only wanted what they thought best for their children). So – don’t think about JKR’s life, or her situation, etc. – listen to her words, they are so true.

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To put it simply: She is my hero, and what a person to look up to

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I meant to say ” ‘you’ will be amazed of course” (I also see that I spelled apparently incorrectly – oh what I would do for an edit function).

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Brilliant. ‘Nuff said. :)

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I’m not upset with the negative posters. Indeed, I feel like if one is secure in one’s beliefs, one should be able to listen to the opposite view from one’s own opinion and one will be stronger for having done so.

The only comment I have about the negative posts is that the point was made that she should have talked about writing books successfully since it is what she knows. I can see that point, but honestly I think she took a better road by speaking about what she did and here’s why.

Rather than giving people false hope that they could become like her (she is one in a billion and I don’t think even she fully understands how it happened), she focused on things that would help the most people in the audience, things they COULD do, instead of disingenuously leading them to believe they could all become billionare authors.

She said it herself in her speech, something to the effect of “the secret of success, manageable goals.” And besides that, I think she stuck very well to giving people VERY valuable bits of advice that will help them when they are down; also, I think she gave them very good advice on how to be successful by basically telling them to GIVE, and it’s axiomatic that the more you give, the more you get.

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Amazing! I was rereading DH this morning, and got to the part where Hermione tells Griphook that she hates V’s discrimination more that Griphook does, and has defended the rights of house elves and other non-human folk as much as the “unusual” Harry has.

I wondered where Hermione’s activitism and sympathy came from, and the sense of grieving pathos regarding the destruction that V has rained upon the magical families. I’m impressed again by the way JKR has tempered her rich but harrowing experiences at Amnesty International into literature.

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Oh goodness! She was Brilliant, the whole speech was breath taking,she was just amazing! &, as always, of course, beautiful.

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E!Online has this story on their front page right now. Guess where it came from! :)

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I seriously love her. She is such a good soul. I loved this speech… it was real. Everything she said was REAL and not some ridiculous, patronizingly happy commencement speech. The world has both good and evil in it, and people should be prepared for both when they join it. She was doing her part in preparing these graduates for what’s actually out there in the world while encouraging them to do there part to make it better. The perfect commencement speech, in my humble opinion.

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*‘their’ part, not ‘there’ part. Leaky so needs an edit button :-P

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I am not “Not Ed Tom” and im here to support “NotTheHBP”, on his/her views that OOPT is the worst Harry Potter film to date and David Yates is a horrible director. yates isn’t as expericend to helm the last two films that are or such great proportion. He’s done a whole lot of tv movies and a couple of ok flop films; i just don’t uderstand why they would pick him to helm the last and most important and i my opinion best book of the harry potter series. WB could have chosen one of the more experienced directors, from the other films to have ago. Hell i would even have prefered Columbus to come back, rather then yates. now thats desperate. so thank you “NotTheHBP” for making your opnion open.

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I agree, not. OOTP was the Worst Film in the series thus far, though it sounds like HBP might be ready to challenge it for the title :-P

I liked Mike Newell best.

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I’m not sure what I could say that would mean anything to anyone, but Jo’s speach was very moving. Like many have said, maybe you have to be 20 years past graduation to get it. Her speach really touched and inspired me, much the way the HP books have. She is so gifted with words, and we are so fortunate to have her in our generation to speak to us and for us.

All I can say to the “younger folk” is just wait, it will all make more sense to you later.

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Its me the real Ed Tom, and may i just say know how happy i am for all the suport i am getting. Thank you ” goldfish” for you kind words of support and i too believe HBP prince will over take OOPT in the Worst Harry Potter film mark. Only together, do we remain strong. Band with me my brothers and sisters there is still hope. yates can still be overthrown. we have the power the power that only american can supply. Remakes.

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This commencement address was great in that it was very unconventional. Rather than focusing on success, it focused on failure and the capacity/power to empathize. Rather than focusing on success, and a list of goals, which isn’t really a life, it focused taking risks and accepting the failure that is inevitable. Thank you J.K. Rowling for an articulate and moving address.

One of my favorite quotes is: “What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.”

I couldn’t have come close to saying the same thing as well.

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lol, not being sued by her best friends for using their names as Death Eaters!!

That woman can never fail to do us proud. Listen to her! You gotta love her!!

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I’m impressed, Jo can remember who her commencement speaker was from uni – I graduated from Ohio State in ‘83 and dang if I can remember who spoke! Whereas, I do remember my HS speaker – Bob Greene from the Chicago Sun, an alum of our HS.

But I will remember this speech for some time to come for its eloquence, humor, pathos and sheer honest delivery. I’ve never heard a commencement speaker admit how nervous they were at giving this speech, nor that it made them lose weight! Love your honesty, Jo – if only everyone could be that way!

To the naysayers, she is talking what she knows about – any experience you have in life, no matter how long you experience it, is a part of you, what makes you unique and has a lasting impression on your outlook. It is to her credit that Jo has taken those experiences, internalized them and is willing to impart to others her knowledge gained from those experiences. That she does so in an entertaining way is for our credit.

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OMG! That was inspiring! My eyes was watery for a moment.

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Truely inspiring, well done Jo!

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I cried while watching this. JK is just so wonderful and inspiring! x

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To Peeved:

To be a writer is to be a political activist – Rowling is a perfect example of that, but most definitely not the first or the last.

A good example besides Rowling if you feel particularly miffed at her is Arundhati Roy, and I highly recommend you read her works with an open mind, even though that might be a little difficult for you.

This speech was everything a speech ought to be. She has proved once again that she is a beautiful writer and speaker, and we are lucky to have a strong woman who can yield her power in the right direction, especially in such harrowing times.

I think we forget how much courage it takes to say the things she says almost every time she has a chance, and I think we all appreciate her efforts to tell the world how much it needs help.

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It’s kind of silly to leave “political commentary” up to “professional” politicians, whatever that means. Before there was such a thing as the career politicians that make winning elections and satisfying lobbyists their full time job, office was taken by regular working men and women who would serve in office for a term and then return to their own professions when their job was done.

In a society that is so overly obsessed with meaningless titles and accreditations (which establishments have brainwashed us into thinking are so vital), it’s to the point where someone who has obviously made a speech so moving and intelligent and well received is going to be criticized by those harbouring envy, ill feelings, or alternate agendas.

Give the woman her due, it isn’t like Harvard did not prosper massively from choosing her as a speaker. And it’s not like all those who helped her to become a success aren’t similarly as lucky or moreso to be associated with someone who was herself the wellspring of the Potter dynasty.

And I can bet you there is more than one person of power who is going to look at the success of this speech and immediately start sizing up Rowling’s potential for a political career. I kind of hope that like Dumbledore, she doesn’t enter that shameless mudslinging arena.

But I can’t deny her charisma as a speaker and writer and ability to relate to a very wide audience. Perhaps it is the people who are already in this arena who fear her holding this kind of power. We cannot have powerful people who are actually empathetic and compassionate…they interfere with the ability of the rich and powerful to do what they want and control the world.

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I understand why JKR mentions things in her speech that have caused some posters on this board to criticise her. For example: the ‘poverty-train’. If I were her, I would mostly likely adress this because it is what EVERYONE knows about her. And secondly, it was an experience that profoundly influenced her. There aren’t that many experiences that do this to us, most importantly because most people in the developed world don’t have that many dark experiences. Thank goodness, too, or we’d end up seriously disturbed in the head from sensory overload. Yes, there are people who’ve endured worse than jkr. She is the first to recognise this, by trying to do all she can to help those who need it (and she knows that she’ll be listened to). But, on a more personal level: human souls can only compare personal hardship with what they have faced before. More prosaically: if a dog bites your leg, and this has never happened to you before, the wound will hurt a lot and the pain will mark you. Knowing that somebody else has had their leg bitten off, doesn’t decrease the pain – not until you yourself have your leg bitten off. So JKR may not have had her leg bitten off – then most of us haven’t, and we would hurt from ‘just a wound’, too. We might not, as she does, ensure that other people get to keep their legs. And that’s a tremendous achievement. She could have stayed in her ‘rich’ poverty and never do anything for the world again. Instead,she’s raising awareness for people she doesn’t know and will never meet. I say kudos.

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I was also fortunate enough to have been there. It was a moving speech that made receiving my master’s degree all the more special. Her candid speech gave stark comparison to the real life of a student attempting to make their way in the world. Her ability to relate to students made the speech engaging and meaningful, probably the best I’ve heard. I especially enjoyed wearing my Gryffindor scarf and holding my wand while wearing my full academic regalia. I think JK enjoyed it, too.

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I think Jo showed so much courage to express to the Graduates of Harvard about the responsibility that does come from having achieved Education at that level.

I can imagine the backtracking that many Parents and Family must have had to do to try to get their Graduates Minds back on the Pursuit of Money. But then the Graduates could say, “Well, if I am not supposed to pay attention to what J.K.Rowlings says, then that means not paying attention to one of the richest women in the World?

Can you imagine the Parents trying to explain that one down?

JO! Thanks for not writing a mundane, repetitive speech, lacking humor or life. I liked your approach. I had the feeling if we all the sudden were called up on the stand to express what we would like to say, to inspire future generations. You included real, now, and current situations that are throwing the balance of humanities progress to where we could loose our Civilization because we no longer recognize the humanity in people, in the community life, the inter-action between countries, and our own personal believes that should have a good challenge to deal with to broaden our horizons, and ACCEPTANCE of what we do not understand, have no background in, nor experience in which to face.

I am very proud of you. I have the highest respect for you. I rarely give that compliment out, which is a shame because I wish I could use these terms more in my life.

I sent the links for the speech to many of my non-Harry Potter reading friends and associates across the world. Many have commented back they appreciated your fine. speaking from the heart>

Your heart was showing glorious colors – which hopefully tapped into other hearts as the Graduates enter the challenging world of work that compromises personal values, success at the expense of others, and the recognition factors that separate people from maximizing life for everyone!

I did not have to clap. I felt it in my heart, the best place to remember what is of value.

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Waiting for the ice cubes to defrost and pre Celtics game 2, Ace

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I just have to post again.

I have now listened to that commencement address three times, and each time I am astounded by Jo. She is so amazing. I am dumbfounded, in awe of her.

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I had to laugh…JKR and I are only 2 yrs different in age…and I can’t remember a word about my commencement speech…lol…although the gist was “go forth and conquer the world!” lol…Nicely done Jo. I so wish you could have been the one at my commencement…but then again, you would have been 2 yrs behind me! Your the best…a fan forever! I am downloading this to my iPod…

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Some of the snotty comments here from people who were neither in attendance at her speech nor able to digest its most basic themes only reinforce the point she was trying to make. Had she gone further into the idea of our uniquely human ability to imagine our way into the lives of others, perhaps she would have taken our current societal habit of projecting our lives on to others to task. To assume that you have any inkling of what her life is like is the very opposite of instead imagining what it must be like without overlaying your ridiculous and likely inaccurate assumptions with the belief that they are even remotely accurate.

The speech was inspiring and thought-provoking, especially for what (unfortunately) some of the graduates have demonstrated by proclaiming Rowling unworthy of their elitist graduation is our elitist and throwaway culture of “ME! ME!”

Rowling is far more than a dismissable author of children’s books – the fact that she, through her creativity, imagination and hard work, got millions of kids to put down the twinkies and Playstation controllers to read, is secondary to the actual lessons (friendship, loyalty, altruism, etc) her characters learned throughout the 7 books.

Evil will truly never be vanquished in our time, but it will certainly not abate if we continue to abdicate responsibility and self-reflection and instead pursue our caste-based pursuits of ‘success’ without ever really knowing or realizing what the word actually means.

Bravo to JK for a great and inspiring speech. Hopefully someone out there who needed to hear it (and there are many) actually did.

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...what a lady with the fanatic ability to touch all segments of society. I would give anything to meet her. She has been my hero since I read her first book.

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I was made aware of this speech by a Harvard alum when he spoke to me at an Amnesty International table at a festival. We were thrilled to hear about Jo’s comments & have sent them to our friends working in refugee camps & dingy INGO offices around the world. Everyone was thrilled & in tears as I was when I read the speech. The nice guy who told me about the contents of the speech (I knew she’d spoken but was unaware of the Amnesty part of it—though she did work at AI & gives a great deal of support to AI today) said that all of the nasty comments he heard were from cranks who were disinclined to care about people anyway. Cheers for Jo.

Avatar Image says: When i read her speech, i was really inspired. I couldn't believe that someone can create and deliver such a great speech. It was so unique. I wanted to qoute her words to share with my friends but i lost the paper. Thank goodness that i found it here. Thanks. =)Avatar Image says: Some people don't get her speech. It is most probably because they do not see and understand that different people have different situations. They forget. Well, this is very sad.

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