Beyonce delivers powerful speech for class of 2020

Beyonce attending Disney's The Lion King European Premiere held in Leicester Square, London.
Beyonce attending Disney's The Lion King European Premiere held in Leicester Square, London.

Beyonce has joined a host of stars in delivering a message for graduates, as part of YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 virtual graduation series.

The singer joined a line-up that included former US president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as singers Billie Eilish and Taylor Swift.

The video messages are part of YouTube’s “virtual commencement celebration bringing together inspirational leaders, celebrities, and YouTube creators to celebrate graduates, their families, and their communities” who have had to miss out on graduating normally due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a video also posted to her 147 million Instagram followers, the Lemonade singer congratulated students and said they had “arrived 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”.

“Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the world know that black lives matter.

“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’ve seen that our collective hearts, when put to positive action, could start the wheels of change.

“Real change has started with you, this new generation of high school and college graduates who we celebrate today.”

The singer, 38, said that her parents had taught her the “value of education, how to be authentic in my actions and how to celebrate individuality and the importance of investing in myself”.

She recounted what she said had been a “pivotal turning point” in her life, the decision to build her own company.

In 2010 she set up Parkwood Entertainment, a management and entertainment company.

She said:  “I had to trust that I was ready and that my parents and mentors provided me with the tools I needed to be successful. But that was terrifying.

“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 tours – that meant ownership, owning my masters, owning my art, owning my future and writing my own story.

“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.”

Beyonce continued: “One of the main purposes of my art for many years has been dedicated to showing the beauty of black people to the world.

“Our history, our profundity and the value of black lives. I’ve tried my best to pull down the veil of appeasement to those who may feel uncomfortable with our excellence.”

She ended her nearly 10-minute video message by urging students to “keep pushing, forget the fear, forget the doubt, keep investing and keep betting on yourself”.


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