Addressing the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, U2 frontman Bono has shared a thought-provoking speech about what he calls the “barricades of bigotry” currently “upheld” by “institutions” in the U.S.
Kicking off the address, the 60-year-old said: “As an Irishman, I’ve always believed America is not just a country but an idea and a dream that belongs to the whole world.”
“I know in recent times the world has been reminded that America is an idea that doesn’t even belong to a lot of Americans,” added the singer. “(But) for many Black Americans, Lady Liberty’s torch is far from a beacon of hope — it’s often a flashlight in the face.”
Floyd was killed on May 25 after a white police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minn. He was 46.
Bono’s stirring speech came as a surprise to viewers tuning into YouTube’s Dear Class of 2020 virtual graduation event on Sunday — which honoured students whose commencements were either postponed or cancelled as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The social justice activist later expressed hope that Americans would be able to help abolish, or “vault” racism and discrimination in the U.S. and ultimately help inspire a positive change in social standards all across the globe.
“You can vault the barricades of bigotry and with your vote you can dismantle institutions that uphold that bigotry and are in your way,” he said, alluding specifically to U.S. citizens.
Before unveiling a brand new, star-studded version of the smash-hit rock anthem, Bono used U2’s Beautiful Day as a metaphor for the country.
He said that the 2000 song simply represented a “dream” or “prayer for where (the band) could go,” suggesting that the Black Lives Matter protests act as a similar “dream” for making a change and putting an end to prejudice in the U.S.
“There were storm clouds over Dublin when U2 recorded Beautiful Day — things were not as they might have been,” revealed Bono.
“The song is not a description of where we were at,” the Dublin-born musician added. “It was a prayer for where we could go. It was a dream like America is a dream of what might be.”
“We now know that America is a song yet to be written, that America might be the greatest song the world has never heard,” he said.
Bono continued: “It’s a wild thought that America is yet to exist, and even wilder, that the class of 2020 might be the very people that bring it into being, after 244 years of striving for freedom — sometimes marching, sometimes protesting, sometimes on your knees, sometimes taking the knee, you get there. I don’t know how, but I know who …”
“You,” added the Dublin-born singer, calling to the nation’s graduating class of 2020, before urging them to vote in the U.S. Presidential Election this November.
“You can enter America,” he said. “We will all enter with you, but it’s gonna be you, and that is gonna be a beautiful day.”
Following his message of “hope,” Bono introduced the Finneas-led, 2020 rendition of Beautiful Day.
Finneas — the four-time Grammy Award winner and older brother to Billie Eilish — not only composed all instrumentals for the “remix,” but he produced the somber take on the track as well.
Though Bono himself did not take part, plenty of other A-list musicians joined in on the collaboration too. Camila Cabello, Ben Platt (Run this Town), Noah Cyrus and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin were all present.