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 US first lady Michelle Obama for her charitable initiatives, urged the Black community to use its vote in upcoming US elections to dismantle “racist and unequal systems.”
“We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does,” the singer said.
In this video grab issued Sunday, June 28, 2020, by BET, Karen Clark Sheard, left, and Kierra Sheard perform during the BET Awards. (AP)
The awards show, broadcast live for the first time in its 20-year history on America’s mainstream CBS channel, featured commercials from the likes of Coca-Cola, Ford, Nissan, P&G, L’Oreal and Facebook that both celebrated the achievements of Black people and increased the challenges they face.
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A remixed version of veteran New York rap group Public Enemy’s 1989 anthem “Fight the Power,” featuring photos of this month’s street protests, opened the show, whose slogan was “Our culture can’t be canceled.”
In this video grab issued Sunday, June 28, 2020, by BET, rapper DaBaby performs “Rockstar” as an actor playing a police officer presses his knee on DaBaby’s neck, replicating the last few moments of George Floyd’s life, during the BET Awards. (AP)
Da Baby’s performance of “Rockstar” began with the rapper singing while lying on the ground under the knee of a police officer, in a recreation of last month’s arrest and death of George Floyd in Minneapolis that sparked the protests.
In this video grab issued Sunday, June 28, 2020, by BET, Roddy Ricch wears a shirt that says Black Lives Matter while performing during the BET Awards. (AP)
Newcomer Roddy Ricch wore a “Black Lives Matter” shirt, John Legend played his ballad, “We Will Never Break,” and Alicia Keys sang an emotional new song, “Perfect Way to Die,” about the black lives lost over the decades.
In this video grab issued Sunday, June 28, 2020, by BET, John Legend performs during the BET Awards. (AP)
The show was a mix of pre-recorded performances and virtual appearances because of the coronavirus pandemic that shut down production of television shows in mid-March.
In this video grab issued Sunday, June 28, 2020, by BET, Alicia Keys, standing atop names of Black lives lost, performs during the BET Awards. (AP)
Awards went to Ricch’s “Please Excuse Me for Being Anti-Social,” which won album of the year, Megan Thee Stallion for best female hip-hop artist and Lizzo was named best female R & 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.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)