Leave it to Queen Bey to steal the spotlight during a star-studded virtual commencement ceremony: Beyonce delivered a stirring, extended speech during YouTube Originals’ “Dear Class of 2020” live stream on Sunday (June 7), touching upon recent protests, sharing her secret to success and generally providing the class of 2020 with a beautifully rendered image of motivation.
“Dear graduates: Please remember 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,” Beyonce said early in her commencement speech, after thanking the Obamas for inviting her to participate. “You are achieving things your parents and grandparents never could imagine for themselves. You are the answer to a generation of prayers.”
Later, Beyonce discussed the importance of betting on yourself by recalling her decision to build her own 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. …But that was terrifying,” she added with a deep exhalation. “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.”
Beyonce spoke to young women, anyone who has been brushed aside as “other” and allies that need to treat the world they are entering with respect; she urged her listeners to keep working toward dreams, and to “let that vulnerability motivate you into greatness”; and nodded to the message of the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd. “Look what you’ve been able to do in the last 14 days,” she said. “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.”
Watch the “Dear Class of 2020” live stream below, which has also featured messages from President and Mrs. Obama, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and several other stars: