Beyoncé has taken a moment speaking to graduating students at this pivotal moment in history to remind young minds of the power of collective action, finding strength amid adversity, and backing yourself all the way to your goals.
As part of YouTube’s virtual commencement event, an Originals livestream of celebrity speeches called Dear Class of 2020, the singer spoke for 10 minutes to newly graduated students about the power of bonding together and speaking up during this time — a truly unique time to be graduating.
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, thousands have hit the streets across America and parts of the globe to protest for racial justice and against police brutality following the police killing of George Floyd, who died after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“You have arrived — here in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic, and worldwide expression of outrage at the senseless killing of yet another unarmed black human being, and you still made it,” Beyoncé began.
“The killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others have left us all broken. It has left the entire country searching for answers. We have seen that our positive hearts, when put to collective action could start the wills of change. Real change has started with you, this new generation of high school and college graduates.”
Beyoncé reflected on the importance of education, family and mentor support, and the college and high school experience, and making the decision to back yourself — like Beyoncé when she decided to build her own label and management company amongst a white, male-dominated entertainment industry.
“Not enough black women had a seat at the table, so I had to go and chop down that wood and build my own table. Then, I had to invite the best there was to have a seat. That meant hiring women, men, outsiders, underdogs, people that were overlooked and waiting to be seen.”
Then, she addressed students directly, especially those who do not feel seen or represented. “To the young women, our future leaders, know that you’re about to make the world turn. I see you. You are everything the world needs. Make those power moves,” she said. “And to the young kings, lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity. Lead with heart.”
“To all those who feel different, if you’re part of a group that’s called ‘other’ a group that does not get the chance to be centre stage: Build your own stage, and make them see you. 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.”
“Look what you’ve been able to do in the last 14 days. We’ve seen the power of the collective.”
Queen Bey then took this important moment in time to remind students of the power they have, and that their actions have consequences for the future — whatever that looks like is up to us.
“Class of 2020: Every thought in your mind is powerful. Every word you speak is powerful. Every action you take has consequences for yourself and your community. Look what you’ve been able to do in the last 14 days. We’ve seen the power of the collective. We’ve seen what happens when we join for the same cause. Please continue to be the voice for the voiceless,” she said.
“Whatever the world looks like in 10 years, in 20 years, part of that is up to you,” she concluded. “This is a crucial time in our history, and in your life. The earth is ripping that bandaid off so we can really see our wounds. So we can acknowledge and nurture them. That’s when true healing begins. You can be that leader we all need. You can lead the movement that celebrates humanity.”