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BET Awards 2020: Black voices highlighted as artists turn political

The BET Awards served as an extension of the voices of Black people protesting in the streets about the inequalities Black people face daily, as artists used their performances to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights and the lives of those lost because of police officers, including George Floyd.

DaBaby, with his face pressed against the ground as an officer’s knee crippled his neck — replicating the last moments of Floyd’s life — rapped a verse from the Black Lives Matter remix of his hit song “Rockstar.” 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.

Sunday’s show, a virtual event because of the coronavirus pandemic, featured a number of highly produced, well-crafted and pre-taped performances. The BET Awards kicked off with Black artists rapping and singing anthems about the Black experience and fighting for equal rights.

The 12-year-old sensation Keedron Bryant, who turned heads on social media with his passionate performance about being a young Black man in today’s world, started the show with an a cappella performance of his poignant song “I Just Wanna Live,” which earned him a record deal. That was followed by an all-star performance of Public Enemy’s 1989 anthem “Fight the Power,” featuring Nas, Black Thought, Rapsody and YG adding new lyrics to the song, even namedropping Taylor and others.

Michelle Obama highlighted Beyoncé’s commitment to the black community before presenting her with the humanitarian award, 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.”


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