While people from all walks of life are undoubtedly reeling from the chaos that is 2020, graduates, in particular, have received an especially short end of the stick. From having to forego important events such as prom and in-person graduation ceremonies, to entering into a workforce or higher education landscape that is unprecedented and hostile, there is little that could have prepared the class of 2020 for what was awaiting them this year. In a bid to make up for the lost memories afforded to classes that went before, and classes that will come after them, celebrities such as Beyoncé, BTS, Lizzo, Michelle and Barack Obama have teamed up to take part in a four hour YouTube special titled ‘Dear Class of 2020.’
Aired on Sunday, June 7, the special served as a virtual commencement celebration for the class of 2020. Bringing together inspirational leaders, public figures, celebrities, and YouTube creators, ‘Dear Class of 2020,’ paid homage not only to the students graduating but to their families and communities, who have each in their own way, also lost out on special moments due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a powerful statement acknowledging the Black Lives Matter movement and sexism in the music industry, Beyoncé’s speech was as much a celebration of the Class of 2020, as it was a call to action for them. Taking a moment to speak directly to the women tuned in, the singer said, “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.” Followed by an address to the “young kings,” who were called to “lead with [their] hearts,” and “redefine masculinity,” the singer continued on to say “there are 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.”
Also providing solace, in addition to a dash of humor, Taylor Swift told the Class of 2020 that she too missed her ceremony, albeit her situation was voluntary. “I ended up being mailed by diploma,” said Swift. “It wasn’t exactly what I pictured, but I was still really proud of it, and I guess one good lesson to come from it is expect the unexpected, but celebrate anyway.” She ended with a sweet acknowledgment of the work carried out by the graduating class, saying “I’m so proud of you guys and I hope that you have a wonderful time and are really proud of yourselves.”
Featuring musical performances by Lizzo, Katy Perry, and the New York Philharmonic, the all-day celebration, while not quite the in-person ceremony graduates would have been dreaming of, was a sentimental reminder of the little joys that can be injected into bad situations when people with good intentions come together.