Black power, suffering and the fight for justice took center stage at the BET awards on Sunday, the first black celebrity event in the United States since nationwide mass protests broke out this month over systemic racism.
The show, which celebrates Black excellence in music, film, sports, and philanthropy, was filled with speeches, songs, images of protests and the names of dozens of Black men and women who have died at the hands of police in recent years.
Beyonce, who was given a humanitarian award by former U.S.first lady Michelle Obama for her charitable initiatives, urged the Black community to use its vote in upcoming U.S. elections to dismantle âracist and unequal systems.â
âWe have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does,â the singer said.
The awards show, broadcast live for the first time in its 20-year history on Americaâs mainstream CBS channel, featured commercials from the likes of Coca-Cola, Ford, Nissan, P&G, LâOreal and Facebook that both celebrated the achievements of black people and highlighted the challenges they face.
A remixed version of veteran New York rap group PublicEnemyâs 1989 anthem âFight the Power,â featuring photos of this monthâs street protests, opened the show, whose slogan was âOur culture canât be canceled.â
Da Babyâs performance of âRockstarâ began with the rapper singing while lying on the ground under the knee of a police officer, in a recreation of last monthâs arrest and death of George Floyd in Minneapolis that sparked the protests.
Newcomer Roddy Ricch (eds correct) wore a âBlack LivesMatterâ shirt, John Legend played his ballad, âWe Will NeverBreak,â and Alicia Keys sang an emotional new song, âPerfect Way to Die,â about the black lives lost over the decades.
The show was a mix of pre-recorded performances and virtual appearances because of the coronavirus pandemic that shut down the production of television shows in mid-March.
Awards went to Ricchâs âPlease Excuse Me for BeingAnti-Social,â which won album of the year, Megan Thee Stallion for best female hip-hop artist, and Lizzo was named best femaleR&B/pop artist.
Gymnast Simone Biles and basketball star LeBron James were named sportswoman and man of the year respectively. Nigerian musician Burna Boy was named best international act.
Follow our Instagram