If there’s anyone who can help motivate the masses as we continue to fight against racial injustice, oppression and reiterating the value of Black lives, it’s none other than Beyoncé.
During her commencement address for Barack and Michelle Obama’s YouTube “Dear Class of 2020” virtual graduation ceremony, the singer congratulated high school seniors, who have persevered through an unprecedented time in the country—from the pandemic to police brutality.
“Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the world know that Black lives matter,” she 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,” the “Freedom” singer continued. “Real change has started with you; this new generation of high school and college graduates who we celebrate today.”
Beyoncé noted that although she didn’t go to college and enjoy “campus parties,” her parents did teach her the value of education. She added that Mathew Knowles and Tina Knowles-Lawson also taught her “how to be authentic in my actions” and “the importance of investing in yourself.”
Queen Bey didn’t only address racism during her address to the class of 2020. She also spoke out against sexism in the music industry, which she faced when building her own company back in 2010.
“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 chop down my own wood and build my own table,” she said of her company, Parkwood, named after a street in Houston, Texas, where Bey once lived. “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.”
“You are at the brink of a huge world shift. Look how far you’ve come and see how much you’ve contributed,” Bey told the graduates in closing. “Keep betting on yourself and congratulations.”
Dear Class of 2020 was also joined by other big names such as Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga and our forever president Barack Obama.