On Sunday (June 7), Beyoncé took part in YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 virtual graduation event, celebrating the class who was unable to have a physical commencement ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Houston icon used her time to not only champion Black Lives Matter but also denounce sexism in the music industry and ask that creatives and more own their stories and build their own tables.
“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,” she said. “And you still made it, we’re so proud of you.”
She added, “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.”
In regards to sexism in the music and entertainment industries, she highlighted how she had to create her own path and “bet on herself.”
“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,” the Lemonade artist said.
She continued, “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.”
You can watch Beyoncé’s full speech below. The event was initially scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 6 but was pushed back a day to honor the memorial service of George Floyd in his birthplace of Raeford, North Carolina. Speakers at the event include Barack and Michelle Obama, BTS, Lady Gaga, Megan Thee Stallion and more.