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Beyoncé Urges 2020 Graduates to 'Build Your Own Stage & Make Them See You' in Graduation Speech

Yesterday, June 7, YouTube's “Dear Class of 2020” virtual graduation ceremony took place. Among the speakers for the event was Beyoncé, who urged graduates to celebrate their accomplishment and recognize that their "collective voice" has prompted "real change."

During her 10-minute commencement speech, she addressed the protests surrounding Black Lives Matter, as well as sexism in the music industry, and urged graduates to stay true to themselves in the face of negativity.

“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.”

The performer then shared her experience in the music industry seeing the sexism and racism at work, which ultimately led to her starting her own label and management company. "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.”

She continued, "To all those that feel different, if you're a part of a group that's called 'other,' a group that does not get the chance to be center stage, build your own stage and make them see you."

The event also featured Barack and Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, BTS, Lady Gaga, Chloe x Halle, Lizzo, and Katy Perry.

Watch Beyoncé's full speech below.

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Article image: Beyoncé performing in Raleigh, NC on May 3, 2016 on "The Formation World Tour." (Kristopher Harris [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons.)

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania