Beyoncé Knowles-Carter made a strong speech on Saturday’s “Dear Class of 2020” virtual graduation on the Black Lives Matter movement and sexism in the music industry.
The singer began by congratulating seniors from high school who persevered in the country through an unprecedented time.
“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.
Beyoncé highlighted the protests about Black Lives Matter that taking place across the country.
“Thank you for using your collective voice and letting the worlds know that Black lives matter. 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 gen eration of high school and college graduates who we celebrate today,” she said.
She also touched upon the sexism still evident in the music industry, and how she had to carve out her own path to success. While in her own words the process was “terrifying,” setting up her own business was a big turning point in her life, “I know how hard it is to step out and bet on yourself.”
“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 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.
The all-day event celebrated graduating seniors who due to the coronavirus pandemic did not have an in-person starting ceremony. It also features words of encouragement by Barack and Michelle Obama, BTS, and Lady Gaga as well as musical performances by Chloe x Halle, Lizzo and the New York Philharmonic and Katy Perry.
“Dear Class of 2020” is just one of many virtual graduation ceremonies to celebrate the 2020 class. Previously scheduled for June 6, “Dear Class of 2020” was rescheduled to push back one day to honor George Floyd‘s memorial service, who died in Minneapolis police hands on May 25.