The BET Awards aired Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater. It was a night to celebrate the success of black entertainers. But this year’s show also focused on politics and civil rights for the black community.
Beyonce opened the show with a political performance to her song “Freedom.” The song is from her visual album Lemonade. “Freedom” takes a stand against the systematic racism in this country, which dates back to slavery.
Her performance started with a portion of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Beyonce’s dancers walked to meet her on stage in a pool of water.
The pop star bolted out her lyrics “Freedom, freedom. Where are you? ‘Cause I need freedom too. I break chains all by myself. Won’t let my freedom rot in hell. I’ma keep running ‘cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.”
Beyonce’s music started to become more political when she dropped her song “Formation” back in February. “Formation” was created to take a stand against police brutality. When she performed the song at the Super Bowl, she and her dancers paid a tribute to the Black Panthers.
Throughout Sunday night, other celebrities took a stand as well. Usher was seen wearing a shirt that said, “Don’t Trump America.” Celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson reminded people to vote in the upcoming election.
“Grey's Anatomy” star and activist Jesse Williams gave an inspiring speech when he accepted his Humanitarian Award. One of the first things Williams mentioned was that the day before the BET Awards took place, Tamir Rice would have turned fourteen.
Williams said, “I don’t want to hear how far the country has come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a twelve-year-old in broad daylight, and then go home and make a sandwich.”
Williams received a standing ovation when he exited the stage, but he wasn’t done speaking on the issue. Backstage, Williams said he looks forward to the day where it will be okay for black people to embrace who they are in public. In one of Williams’ final statements, he said the black celebrities who have made it, have an obligation to stand up for the black community.