Beyoncé Delivers Commencement Speech for Class of 2020: ''Keep Pushing, Forget the Fear''

Beyoncé addresses Black Lives Matter, racial inequality and more in her commencement speech during YouTube's "Dear Class of 2020" livestream

By Pamela Avila Jun 07, 2020 9:10 PMTags
Beyonce, Dear Class of 2020 YouTube

Beyoncé is encouraging young high school and college graduates to continue to advocate for underrepresented communities, to continue to do the work to achieve a better tomorrow and to "keep investing and keep betting on yourself." 

As the Class of 2020 virtual celebrations continue due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the 38-year-old is stepping up and empowering the future generations through her speech during YouTube's Dear Class of 2020 livestream on Sunday, June 7. 

"Thank you President [Barack Obama] and [Michelle Obama] for including me in this very special day and congratulations to the class of 2020," she began her speech. "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 man, and you still made it."

The Lemonade singer then expressed how proud she was for Class of 2020 and for "using your collective voice and letting the world know that Black Lives Matter."

She added, "The killing 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 start the wheels of change. Real change has started with you—this new generation of high school and college graduates who we celebrate today."

During her Dear Class of 2020 speech, the Houston native opened up about her upbringing and education. "I did not get to experience college like some of you, or get to experience parties that left you struggling the next day in class, although that could've been fun," she shared candidly. "My parents did teach me the value of education—how to be authentic in my actions, and how to celebrate individuality and the importance of investing in myself."

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Celebs Celebrating the Graduating Class of 2020

Further, she urged Class of 2020 graduates to "please remember to take a little time to give thanks to your family members and to the community who's been such a big support system to you."

"You are achieving things your parents and your grandparents never could imagine for themselves. You are the answer to a generation of prayers," she said. "Now some of you might be the first in your family to graduate from college. Maybe you did not follow the path that was expected of you and you probably questioned everything about your decision, but know that stepping out is the best thing you can do for self-discovery."

The singer then acknowledged that she understands it can be hard for the upcoming graduates to step out "and bet on yourself" but that it's important to do so.

"There was a pivotal turning point in my life when I chose to build my own company many years ago," Beyoncé said. "I had to trust that I was ready and that my parents and mentors had provided me with the tools I needed to be successful. That was terrifying."

She went on to share her thoughts on the business industry and how it can "still be very sexist" and "male-dominated."

"As a woman," she said, "I did not see enough female role models given the opportunity to do what 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."

The Grammy-winner also addressed the lack of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. "Not enough black women had a seat at the table so I had to go chop down that wood and build my own table," she explained. "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. Many of the best creatives and business people who although supremely qualified and talented were turned down [...] because they were female or because of racial disparity."

She further expressed that she's been proud to be able to use her influence to highlight, uplift and "show the beauty of Black people to the world." 

"Our history and our fecundity, the value of Black laughs... I've tried my best to pull down the veil of appeasement to those who may feel uncomfortable with our excellence."

"To the young women our future leaders know that you're about to make the world turn. I see you. You are everything the world needs make those power be excellent," the "Run the World (Girls)" singer said, before also sharing a piece of advice to the young men of Class of 2020. "And to the young kings lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity lead with heart is so many different ways to be brilliant."

She added, "I believe you and every human being is born with a masterful gift don't make the world make you feel that you have to look a certain way to be brilliant and now you don't have to speak a certain way to be brilliant. But you do have to spread your gift around the planet in a way that is authentically you."

Before concluding her speech, Beyoncé shared words of encouragement and empowerment to the LGTBQ community during Pride Month. "To all those who feel different if you were part of a group is called other, group that does not get the chance to be center stage build your own stage and make them see you," she said. "Your queerness is beautiful your blackness is beautiful your compassion your understanding your fight for people who may be different from you is beautiful."

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Celebrities Attending Protests Over George Floyd's Death

"Remember you are never alone," she said as she concluded her speech. "Lean on the strength of togetherness, keep the collective strong. Stay focused. Don't talk about what you're going to do. Don't just dream about you're going to do. Don't criticize somebody else for what they're not doing. You be it. Be about that action and go do it."

She added, "Keep your eye on your intention. Don't let any outside distractions or your own insecurity stop you from your goals. Embrace that struggle... surviving that struggle will strengthen you. This is a crucial time in our history and in your life. The earth is ripping the Band-Aid off so we can really see our wound, so we can acknowledge and nurture them. That's when true healing begins. You can be the leader we all need... My prayer for you is that you invest in yourself and see the value of giving back and building a community the best way you can [...] I know you are ready to start one of the most important journeys of your life. You are a blink of a huge world shift look how far you've come and how much you contributed. Keep pushing forget the fear forget the doubt. Keep investing and keep betting on yourself." 

YouTube's Dear Class of 2020 featured other notable stars delivering inspiring commencement speeches including Barack ObamaMichelle ObamaBTSLady Gaga, former Secretary of State Condoleezza RiceMalala Yousafzai and Google CEO Sundar Pichai among others.