Beyoncé used her platform Sunday while accepting the BET humanitarian award to relay a direct appeal to viewers: Go vote. “Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain,” said the superstar singer at the BET Awards, which celebrated its 20 years of highlighting excellence in black-led entertainment. But the ceremony, filmed virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, kept much of its focus on topics such as systemic racism and equal rights, the AP reports. Beyoncé was honored for her philanthropic work and relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis. She said voting in the upcoming election was the way to end a “racist and unequal system” in America. “I’m encouraging you to take action,” she said following an introduction by former first lady Michelle Obama.
The singer dedicated her award to the Black Lives Matter movement, and encouraged activists to continue to push forward. “We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does,” she said. Earlier this month, she called for the cops who killed Breonna Taylor to be arrested. Also during the BET ceremony, rapper DaBaby opened his performance by laying on the pavement while an actor playing a police officer pressed his knee on the rapper’s neck, re-enacting the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The opening of the show featured an all-star performance of Public Enemy’s 1989 anthem “Fight the Power.” The performance featured group members Chuck D and Flavor Flav along with Nas, Black Thought, Rapsody, and YG—who added lyrics to the song and name-dropped Taylor. During the performance, video clips were shown of the national protests over the deaths of unarmed black people including Floyd, Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
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