The BET Awards used its platform to highlight black voices amid Black Lives Matter movement, with the artists using their performances during the virtual award ceremony on Sunday to encourage the need for change in the treatment of the black community in the United States.
BET, an American television channel dedicated to African-American and minority people, has a special category ‘BET Global Good award,’ to honour “public figures who use their platform for social responsibility and goodness while demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of the global Black community.”
The award went to France’s Assa Traore for her anti-racism activism after her brother Adama was allegedly killed in police custody in France four years ago. In a video message played during the award ceremony on Sunday, Traore called the award “an acknowledgment for all the victims, for all the families who keep fighting for truth and justice.”
Meanwhile, artists highlighted the injustice against the black community in their performances. DaBaby replicated the last moments of George Floyd, who died on May 25 after a police officer knelt on his knee for nearly nine minutes in Minnesota. For the performance, DaBaby had his face pressed against the ground as an officer’s knee crippled his neck, while he rapped a verse from the ‘Black Lives Matter’ remix of his hit song “Rockstar.”
His performance also featured images of the anti-racism protests underway across the US and other parts of the world demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others. Other black artists also rapped and sang anthems about the movement.
Former first lady Michelle Obama presented Beyonce with the Humanitarian award for her commitment towards seeking equal treatment for the black community, saying: “You can see it in everything she does, from her music that gives voice to black joy and black pain, to her activism that demands justice for black lives.”
In her acceptance speech, the “Irreplaceable” hitmaker urged the viewers to use their voting rights in the upcoming elections to do their part in the fight against racism, and said: “We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”
The three-hour virtual award ceremony aired on CBS for the first time also marked BET’s 20th award show and its 40th year as a network.