Beyoncé gives inspiring speech to 2020 graduates: 'Change has started with you'
Listen up, class of 2020! Beyoncé has some wise words for you.
On Sunday, as part of YouTube's Dear Class of 2020 virtual commencement event, the singer shared an empowering 10-minute speech to graduating students about entering the world during this unprecedented time.
After thanking the Obamas for including her in the event and congratulating graduates, the singer began: "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...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 who we celebrate today."
She went onto say that although she didn't attend college herself, her parents did teach her value of education, how to be authentic in her actions, and how to celebrate individuality and the importance of investing in yourself. She then reflected on her own experience of "stepping out" and betting on yourself, pointing to the time when she decided to build her own company as a pivotal moment in her life and career. "As a woman, I did not see enough female role models given the opportunity to do what I knew I had to do," 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," she said. "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."
The singer then addressed the students directly, in particular those who feel underrepresented. "To the young women, our future leaders, know that you're about to make the world turn," she said. "I see you. You are everything the world needs. Make those power moves, be excellent. And to the young kings, lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity. Lead with heart."
After encouraging everyone to share their unique gifts, she added: "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. Make them see you."
Beyoncé wrapped things up by reminding the graduates to respect themselves, put in the work and be aware of the power they have and that their actions have consequences for the future. "Class of 2020, every thought in your mind is powerful," she said. "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. Never forget we can disagree in a way that is productive to arrive at decisions that foster real change. "
"Whatever the world looks like in 10 years, in 20 years — part of that is up to you," she concluded. "I urge you to let this current moment push you to improve yourself in all areas of your life. Wherever you can find hope, follow it...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...I pray that you continue to celebrate and value lives that appear different than your own."