Beyoncé knew her voice was going to be heard by millions on Sunday, June 7, and got straight to the important issues during her Dear Class Of 2020 commencement speech. Since graduation ceremonies all over the world were canceled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 also sent shock-waves through the nation, starting a powerful movement to end unchecked police brutality and systemic injustices toward Black people. Beyoncé's Dear Class Of 2020 commencement speech called out racism and sexism and it was so needed.
Beyoncé was just one of the celebrity icons asked to speak to 2020 graduates during the digital ceremony, and she used her platform to reflect on current world events. After addressing the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus crisis that left students feeling helpless, Beyoncé hit on the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
“Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the worlds know that black lives matter,” Beyoncé said. “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 praised the graduates for making their own decisions about their futures that felt right to them. Whether they're the first in their family to go to college or chose a completely different path than anyone they know, she wanted students to be comforted in their personal choices.
Beyoncé went on to speak about how sexism in the entertainment industry is still very real today, but how change is upon us thanks to the youth fighting for a more equal future.
“The entertainment business is still very sexist,” she said. “It’s still very male-dominated and as a woman, I did not see enough female role models given the opportunity to 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 overlook and waiting to be seen.”
Beyoncé concluded her message with a powerful statement encouraging students to not second guess themselves and continue to push forward for change. "You can be that leader we all need," she said. "You can lead the movement that celebrates humanity. My prayer for you is that you invest in yourself and see the value of giving back and building your community the best way you can. I pray that you continue to celebrate and value lives that appear different than your own."