Beyoncé delivered an inspirational speech for her commencement address as part of YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 streaming special which also featured Barack and Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, BTS, Lady Gaga, Chloe x Halle, Lizzo, and Katy Perry.
The singer started by congratulating the new set of graduants on their achievements and for overcoming obstacles the world’s circumstances presented.
“Congratulations to 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.”
Touching on current events and the nationwide protests, she said, “Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the world know that black lives matter.” She also added, “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.”
Sharing her experiences with sexism in the industry, she said, “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. 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 overlooked and waiting to be seen.”
The singer also gave words of encouragement to people who feel different in our world. “To all those who feel different: If you’re a 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. If you’ve ever been called dumb, unattractive, overweight, unworthy, untalented, well, so have I.
Speaking on her secret to success, Beyoncé revealed, “I’m often asked, ‘What’s your secret to success?’ The shorter answer: Put in that work. There may be more failures than victories, yes I’ve been blessed to have 24 Grammys, but I’ve lost, 46 times. That meant rejection, 46 times. Please don’t ever feel entitled to win, just keep working harder. “
Watch her full commencement address below.
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