The three-hour pre-taped show highlighted the Black Lives Matter movement, the importance of voting, and celebrated Black culture.
Remember award shows? It feels like it’s been forever since we celebrated art and entertainment. But how can we bask in music and celebrities during a time of social justice uprising and a global pandemic? Last night, the 2020 BET Awards put on a show that was equal parts entertaining while also highlighting the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the program.
Comedian and actress Amanda Seales hosted the show, which aired on CBS. Her on-point monologue was all about how there’s no way to avoid talking about race, discrimination, and police brutality. It’s not uncommon for award shows to touch on politics during acceptance speeches and satirical moments. As more entertainers use their social media platform to speak on social justice issues, that activism is transitioning more and more toward mainstream programming.
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“Now, folks always say, ‘All Amanda ever does is talk about race.’ Well, listen, I would love to talk about regular, everyday things, but racism always beats me to it,” the Insecure actress said. “For instance, candy: Who don’t like candy? But whenever I talk about Skittles, I remember Trayvon Martin. I would love to talk about ice cream, it’s a delicious treat. But each time I do, I’m reminded of Botham Jean.”
“Who doesn’t appreciate some shut-eye?” she continued. “I had a nap in 2015 that was so good, it felt like Black Jesus tucked me in. I still talk about it to this day, but that’s a wrap because I can’t dream about sleeping knowing Breonna Taylor’s killers have not been arrested.”
Former First Lady Michelle Obama presented the Humanitarian Award to Beyoncé. Obama said, “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.”
Beyoncé accepted her award by thanking the Black Lives Matter protesters and discussing the importance of voting in the upcoming presidential election.
“I want to dedicate this award to all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me, marching, and fighting for change. Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain. Now we have one more thing we need to do to walk in our true power, and that is to vote,” she said. “There are people banking on us staying at home during local elections and primaries happening in states across the country. We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”
Last night’s pre-taped show celebrated BET’s 20th awards show and BET’s 40th year as a network. The three-hour event also included performances, including Roddy Ricch, who wore a Black Lives Matter shirt during his performance. Alicia Keys also performed as did, Anderson Paak and Jay Rock, as well as brothers SiR and D Smoke, who sang with their mother Jackie Gouché.
DaBaby delivered one of the most impressive performances last night with his hit song “Rockstar.” DaBaby, with his face pressed against the ground as an officer’s knee crippled his neck — replicating the last moments of George Floyd‘s life — rapped a verse from the Black Lives Matter during the song. His performance also featured images from protests, a reflection of the current world in the wake of Floyd’s death and the death of others, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
Click here for a list of all the winners.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.