Beyonce delivers powerful speech to class of 2020: ‘You are at the brink of a huge world shift’

Artist used her address to new graduates to highlight ongoing world issues, as well as to discuss her personal experiences throughout her career

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 08 June 2020 11:47
Beyonce shares powerful commencement speech

Beyoncé issued a moving and powerful address to the graduating class of 2020, as part of Barack and Michelle Obama’s YouTube commencement ceremony.

The Grammy-winning artist used her speech to address the killings of unarmed black men by police in the US, including George Floyd’s death last month.

“Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the world know that black lives matter,” she said. “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.”

Among the many issues she addressed, Beyoncé highlighted her experiences of misogyny in the music industry and how it made her more determined to own her art.

“The entertainment business is still very sexist,” she said. “It’s still very male-dominated and as a woman, 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 encouraged graduating students to embrace their differences. “Your queerness is beautiful. Your blackness is beautiful. Your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you, is beautiful,” she said.

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

She concluded: “My prayer for you, is that you invest in yourself and see the value of giving back and building your community the best way you can. I pray that you continue to celebrate and value lives that appear different from your own.

“I know you are ready to start one of the most important journeys of your life. You are at the brink 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. And congratulations.”

Commencement addresses were also made by Lizzo, Taylor Swift, BTS, Lady Gaga, Chloe x Halle and Katy Perry.

See Beyonce's in full here.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in