Beyoncé congratulated the high school seniors who persevered through the myriad of challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and the recent “worldwide expression of outage” over the killing of George Floyd.
“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.
“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 generation of high school and college graduates who we celebrate today.”
Beyoncé also touched on her own experiences with racism and sexism in the music industry, and how she aimed to champion equality and diversity through her own company.
“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,” she said.
“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 overlooked and waiting to be seen.”
The singer concluded her speech with an encouraging message.
“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 moves. Be excellent. And to the young kings, lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity. Lead with heart. There’s so many different ways to be brilliant. I believe you and every human being is born with a masterful gift. Don’t let the world make you feel that you have to look a certain way to be brilliant. And no 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.
“To all those who feel different. If you’re part of a group that’s called ‘other,’ a group that does not get the chance to be centre 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.”
BTS also gave a commencement speech recorded from the National Museum of Korea, with each member sharing memories from their schooling days and the life lessons they attained from it.
RM concluded the group’s speech with this message: “We may be seeing each other through just a camera and this small screen, but I know your future will bloom to something much bigger and magnificent”.
“Graduates, friends, family, faculty, today, you stand with us, the largest graduating class in history. We sincerely congratulate you on your graduation. Congratulations, class of 2020!”