Beyoncé Urges 2020 Graduates to Continue to Be the "Voice for the Voiceless" in Moving Commencement Speech
The queen has spoken. On Sunday, Beyoncé offered a few words of wisdom for the graduating class of 2020 during YouTube's virtual graduation special.
In her powerful speech, the singer addressed the Black Lives Matter protests happening across the country in light of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and how the next generation should never stop using their voice for change.
"Congratulations to the Class of 2020. You have 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," she began. "Thank you. We're so proud of you, for using your collective voice and letting the world know that Black Lives Matter."
She continued, "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."
Beyoncé shifted the subject slightly to discuss the "pivotal" moment of when she decided to start her own company, after observing sexism in the entertainment 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," Bey shared. "Not enough black women had a seat at the table, so I had to go and chop my own 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 who were overlooked and waiting to be seen."
Before signing off, the Lemonade singer first applauded the young people for their actions these past two weeks in the wake of racial injustice, urging them not to give up on permanent change. "We've seen the power of collective. We've seen what happens when we join for the same cause," she said. "Please, continue to be the voice for the voiceless. Never forget we can disagree in a way that is productive to arrive at decisions that foster real change."
"And if you make a mistake, that's OK, too. But we all have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable and change. Whatever the world looks like in 10 years, in 20 years, part of that is up to you. I urge you to let this current moment push you to improve yourself in all areas of your life: at work, at home, activism, spirituality," she said, adding: "Wherever you can find hope, follow it. And remember you are never alone. Lean on that strength of togetherness. Keep the collective strong, stay focused."
Bey reminded graduates that they are on the "brink of a huge world shift," and to "keep pushing" forward no matter what obstacles stand in their way. "Forget the fear, forget the doubt. Keep investing, and keep betting on yourself," she concluded. "And congratulations."