It’s been two weeks since George Floyd was held under an officers knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds resulting in his death.
Star Wars Actor John Boyega, spoke out as have numerous musicians, actors, politicians and influencers around the world.
In three separate impassioned pleas, Grammy award winner Beyonce, former first lady Michelle Obama and Just Mercy actor Michael B Jordan have also encouraged activism, calling for more to be done in Hollywood and beyond.
Beyoncé Supports the Black Lives Matter Movement while Calling out the “Sexist” Music Industry
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has supported the Black Lives Matter movement with a powerful speech during YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 virtual graduation.
The singer started her speech by congratulating the graduating class for arriving “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 then spoke about the Black Lives Matter movement taking place around the United States, thanking them for using their “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,” she said.
She also touched on sexism which is still prevalent in the music industry and detailed how she carved her own path to success.
“I know how hard it is to step out and bet on yourself,” she said.
“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.”
“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.”
“I know how hard it is to step out and bet on yourself.”
WATCH: Beyoncé full commencement speech — Dear Class of 2020. Story continues after video…
Michelle Obama Encourages Activism Beyond Social Media
Former First Lady Michelle Obama used the Dear Class of 2020 platform to insist that activism beyond social media is important.
“Over the past couple of months, our foundation has been shaken,” Obama said.
“Not just by a pandemic that stole too many of our loved ones, upended our daily lives and sent tens of millions into unemployment. But also by the rumbling of the age-old fault lines that our country was built on. The lines of race and power that are now, once again, so nakedly exposed for all of us to grapple with.”
“If any of you are scared, or confused, or angry, or just plain overwhelmed by it all, if you feel like you’re searching for a lifeline just to steady yourself, you are not alone. I am feeling all of that too. I think we all are.”
Obama continued by saying that what is happening now is a “direct results of decades of unaddressed prejudice an inequality.
“The truth is, when it comes to all those tidy stories of hard work and self-determination that we like to tell ourselves about America, well, the reality is a lot more complicated than that. Because for too many people in this country, no matter how hard they work, there are structural barriers working against them that just make the road longer and rockier. And sometimes it’s almost impossible to move upward at all. Because what if you’re required to work during a pandemic, but don’t have enough protective equipment or health insurance from your employer, or paid sick leave? What is more essential: your work or your life? If you don’t feel safe driving your own car in your own neighbourhood? Or going for a jog, or buying some candy at 7-11, or birdwatching? If you can’t even approach the police without fearing for your life, then how do you even begin to chart your own course?”
Obama used the time to share the “lessons” that we are now learning and gave instruction on what to do next.
— Lesson One: “Life will always be uncertain.”
— Lesson Two: “Treating people right will never, ever fail you.”
— Lesson Three: “Share your voice with the rest of the world.”
— Lesson Four: “Anger is a powerful force, it can be a useful force. But left on its own it will only corrode and destroy and sow chaos on the inside and out. But when anger is focused, when it’s channelled into something more, that is the stuff that changes history.”
“If you can’t even approach the police without fearing for your life, then how do you even begin to chart your own course?””
WATCH: Michelle Obama’s 2020 Commencement Address. Story continues…
Michael B. Jordan Asks for Investment in Black Hiring and Storytelling in Hollywood
Actor Michael B. Jordan has called on Hollywood to hire more “Black creators” and diversity during a protest over the weekend.
During a speech against police brutality, Jordan urged Tinseltown bosses to “invest in black staff”.
“I’m proud to have an inclusion rider and all that good stuff, and I use my power to demand diversity, but it’s time the studios and agencies and all these buildings we stand in front of to do the same.”
“You committed to a 50/50 gender parity in 2020. Where is the challenge to commit to Black hiring? Black content led by Black executives, Black consultants. Are you policing our storytelling as well? Let us bring our darkness to the light. Black culture: the sneakers, sports, comedic culture that you guys love so much. We’ve dealt with discrimination at every turn. Can you help fund Black brands, companies, cultural leaders, Black organizations?” he added.
Jordan also used the platform to ask Americans to vote this year — something which could make all the difference.
“We got to vote. Everybody says it’s a very easy thing to do, I hear it and I respect it, but voting has never been more important than it is today,” he said.
“Where is the challenge to commit to Black hiring? Black content led by Black executives, Black consultants. Are you policing our storytelling as well?”
Actor Michael B Jordan speaks to protestors
“Where is the challenge to commit to Black hiring? Black content lead by Black executives, Black consultants.”
(? @producerTommy / @blacklovedoc) #BlackLivesMatter #BlackMediaMatters pic.twitter.com/0yCKwwSGOg
— NICK HAMILTON (@NickHamiltonLA) June 6, 2020