Beyonce Knowles-Carter joined a prestigious roster of guest speakers for YouTube’s global virtual commencement ceremony Dear Class of 2020 on Sunday. The global superstar gave a speech that not only inspired but amplified the Black Lives Matter movement and encouraged everyone who has ever been put in the margins to stand up and be seen.
She kicked off her nearly 10-minute speech by thanking the Obamas and congratulating the class of 2020. “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. We’re so proud of you.”
She continued: “Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the worlds 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.”
She talked about how her parents taught her the value of education and how to be authentic in her actions and to celebrate individuality and investing in yourself.
“Some of you might be the first in your family to graduate from college,” she said. “Maybe you did not follow the path that was expected from you and you probably questioned everything about your decision — but know that stepping out is the best thing you can do for self-discovery. I know how hard it is to step out and bet on yourself.”
She talked about venturing off on her own, starting her own company in a male-dominated industry and how terrifying it was. “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,” she said. “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”
She went on to talk about how executives at major corporations have overlooked some of the best creatives and business people because they were women or because of racial disparity. “I’ve been very proud to provide them with a place at my table,” she said. “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 said how young women are the future leaders and how they make the world turn. “I see you. You are everything the world needs.” For the “young kings”, she encourages to”lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity” and “lead with heart.”
She continues, “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 center 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, make them see you.”
For those who have been ostracized, marginalized and insulted, Beyonce adds, “Whatever you do, don’t let negativity of people projecting their own self-doubts on you to deter you from your focus.”
“Turn those criticisms into fuel and motivation to become a beautiful beast,” she said. “Respect is everything.”
Watch her full video below.
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