Beyoncé gives commencement speech on protests, success

GRAMMY award-winning singer joins The Obamas, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and over 70 influencers to address graduates on YouTube.

Beyoncé Commencement Speech Screenshot from YouTube "Dear Class of 2020"

Beyonce encouraged the class of 2020 to be leaders and voices of change during her inspiring virtual commencement address as part of YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” event on Sunday.

The GRAMMY award-winning singer touched on racial injustice, the coronavirus pandemic, and the death of George Floyd, who died while in Minneapolis police custody.

READ MORE: Beyoncé calls for activists to remain ‘focused in our call for real justice’

“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 said in the video clip. 

Early in her commencement speech, she encouraged graduates to “take a little bit of time to give thanks to your family members and the community who’s been such a big support system for you.”

“You are achieving things your parents and grandparents never could imagine for themselves. You are the answer to a generation of prayers,” she added. 

The music icon also discussed the importance of believing in yourself enough to take risks and recalled her decision to build her own management and entertainment company a decade ago.

“I had to trust that I was ready and that my parents and mentors provided me with the tools I needed to be successful,” she explained. “But that was terrifying. 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.”

She continued, “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.”

Beyoncé urged listeners to let “vulnerability motivate you into greatness.”

READ MORE: Beyonce promotes George Floyd petition, says justice is ‘far from being achieved’

And when it comes to the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd, Bey noted, “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.”

YouTube’s “Dear Class of 2020” also featured messages from former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and over 70 influencers from the worlds of acting, sports, music, and politics.

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