Courtesy of YouTube
Beyoncé To The Class Of 2020: "You Can Lead The Movement That Celebrates Humanity"
Yesterday, June 7, Beyoncé, Michelle and Barack Obama, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga and others offered powerful messages of hope and encouragement to graduating students across the country via YouTube's star-studded Dear Class Of 2020 livestream.
"You have arrived, here in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic and world-wide expression of outrage at yet another senseless killing of another unarmed Black human being. And you still made it. We're so proud of you. Thank you for using your collective voice in letting the word know that Black Lives Matter," Beyoncé began during her inspirational 10-minute speech (watch below).
"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 we celebrate today."
The GRAMMY-winning "Formation" singer called out the sexism and racism in music industry and shared how she has used her massive platform to not only highlight the beauty of Blackness, but to open doors to more diverse voices and faces. "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, 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."
"One of the main purposes of my art for many years has been dedicated to showing the beauty of Black people to the world. Our history, our profundity and the value of Black lives. 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," Queen Bey continued with a smile. "And to the young kings, lean in to your vulnerability and redefine masculinity. Lead with heart."
She also stood in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and anyone else who has been "othered" by society, reminding listeners that the haters are just projecting their own insecurities.
"To all those who feel different, if you're part of a group that's called other, a group that doesn't 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. I hope you continue to go into the world and show them that you will never stop being yourself, that it's your time now. Make them see you… Don't let negativity of people projecting their own self-doubts deter you from your focus."
Finally, the multi-hyphenate superstar shared her secret to success—hard work and remembering that failures are simply part of the journey. She encouraged the class of 2020 to lead with vulnerability and to know that they are the ones who will help push humanity forward.
"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's meant rejection 46 times. Please don't ever feel entitled to win, just keep working harder. Surrender to the cards you are dealt. It's from that surrender that you get your power. Loosing can be the best motivator to get even bigger wins."
"Whenever you feel like you're not in control, or the world is against you, let that vulnerability motivate you into greatness. That's how I found my true self. I remain a work-in-progress and that's the beauty of growth," she revealed. "Whatever the world looks like in 10 years and 20 years, part of that is up to you. I urge you to let this current moment push you to improve yourself in all areas of your life; at work, at home, activism and spirituality. Wherever you can find hope, follow it…You can be that leader we all need. You can lead the movement that celebrates humanity."
The Obamas also offered words of hope and context to what is going on in the world right now, and how they know the younger generations will move us forward. They first spoke together and later offered thoughtful, in-depth solo speeches.
"Over these past couple of months, our foundation has been shaken. Not just by a pandemic that stole too many of our loved ones, upended our daily lives and send tens of millions into unemployment, but also by the rumbling of the age-old fault lines that our country was built on. The lines of race and power that are once again so nakedly exposed for all of us to grapple with."
"What's happening right now is the direct result of decades of unaddressed prejudice and inequality... The tough part is, nobody has all the answers… If my generation did, trust me, we'd have fixed all of this a long time ago. But that doesn't mean we should feel hopeless, just the opposite, because what we finally do have is focus… And it's not just the communities most affected by these challenges that see it now. It's folks all across the country that for too long have had the luxury and privilege of looking away. We all have no choice but to see what has been staring us in the face for years, for centuries. So the question is, how will we respond?"
"I know that not only that can you do better than those that came before, you will. So, it's your time," the former First Lady concluded. Barack echoed Michelle's message, underscoring the fairer, more just "new normal" the young people can bring forth.
"In a lot of ways, the pandemic just brought into focus problems that have been growing for a very long time, whether it's widening economic inequality, the lack of basic healthcare for millions of people, the continuing scourge of bigotry and sexism, or the divisions and dysfunctions that plague our political system," the former President stated.
"You don't have to accept what was considered normal before. You don't have to accept the world as it is. You can make it into the world as it should be."
In addition to the moving words delivered by Beyoncé, the Obamas, Gaga, Keys, Condoleezza Rice and several others, there were performances from Lizzo and her flute, BTS, Maluma, Katy Perry and more. You can watch the full four-and-a-half-hour special here on YouTube.