In a video to the class of 2020, Beyonce Knowles-Carter gave a speech that touched on the major world events this year’s graduates are facing and criticized the entertainment industry for the biases she had to overcome during her career.
“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,” she said. ” 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.”
Many commencement speakers discuss their road to success, but Beyonce used that story to discuss the lack of diversity that has become a major topic in the entertainment industry. The singer discussed how she felt it was necessary to start her own company in order to fulfill her vision of “showing the beauty of Black people to the world, our history, our profundity and the value of Black lives.”
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 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 said.
To the graduates, she encouraged them to “make those power moves” and to “lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity.” She encouraged them to see their differences as a gift rather than a disadvantage holding them back from their goals.
“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.”
Watch Beyonce’s speech in the clip above.