Beyoncé has commended the Class of 2020 for putting into motion the “wheels of change” in a powerful commencement speech for a YouTube special.
The superstar delivered a moving address for the Dear Class of 2020 virtual celebration, which streamed online on Sunday (June 7, 2020), and applauded students for achieving academic success “in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic, and worldwide expression outrage at the senseless killing of yet another unarmed black human being”, in reference to Minnesota man George Floyd.
“And you still made it,” Beyonce smiled. “We’re so proud of you. Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the world know that Black Lives Matter.”
The singer opened up further about the murder of Floyd and countless other African-Americans dead as a result of police brutality and racial violence, which have “left us all broken”.
“It has left the entire country searching for answers,” she said.
“We’ve seen that our collective hearts, when put to positive action, could start the wheels of change. Real change has started with you.”
Beyonce then reflected on the challenges youths will face stepping into the next chapter of their lives, but reminded them that no matter how hard it may seem, it’s “the best thing you can do for self discovery”.
She recalled a “pivotal turning point” in her own life and career years ago, when she made the “terrifying” decision to launch her own company, having faced so many struggles in the “very sexist” music industry.
“The entertainment business is still very sexist. It’s still very male-dominated and as a woman, I did not see enough female role models given the opportunity to do what I knew I had to do: to run my label and management company, to direct my films and produce my tools,” she shared. “That meant ownership, owning my masters, owning my art, owning my future and writing my own story.”
Beyonce explained she has made it her mission to use her art to show “the beauty of black people to the world”, and encouraged young women to “make those power moves” and “be excellent”, while calling on “young kings” to “lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity” to “lead with heart”.
She also offered up words of wisdom to those who don’t feel like they fit in: “To all those who feel different, if you’re a part of a group that’s called ‘other,’ a group that does not get the chance to be center stage, build your own stage and make them see you,” she declared.
“Your queerness is beautiful. Your blackness is beautiful. Your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you is beautiful. I hope you continue to go into the world and show them that you will never stop being yourself. That it’s your time now. Make them see you.”
Beyonce’s address, (which can be viewed here), came after commencement speeches from former U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, while Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, and Alicia Keys also made appearances to deliver messages to fans during the digital ceremony.