Centered around the theme that “our culture can’t be canceled” — the 20th annual BET Awards, with performances, monologues and appearances, honored not only Black excellence but the lives lost to racism and police brutality. While recent protests and the tragedies which spurred them were heavy on the minds of everyone involved and watching at home, the show also served as an opportunity to celebrate us. The virtual rendition of the awards show allowed for larger, more creative performances and a long-awaited appearance from Beyoncé.
Here are some of the best moments from last night's show:
Public Enemy Performs "Fight The Power"
Keedron Bryant, the 12-year-old who has gone viral amid protests against police brutality, opened up the show with his song “I Just Wanna Live.” His lyrics “I'm a young Black man, doing all that I can to stand,” served as the introduction into a new rendition of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
Black Thought and Questlove of The Roots, Nas, Rapsody and YG joined the rap group for the reworked version of the 1989 hit, which included lyrics touching on today’s civil unrest, reports Rolling Stone. The performance included footage from protests around the country.
Lil Wayne Honors Kobe Bryant
Lil Wayne honored Kobe Bryant during his performance of his 2009 hit named after the Laker. Tunechi stood on a black stage with “24” and “Kobe” lit up behind him as he rapped "Kobe doin' work, 2-4 on my shirt, he the greatest on the court, and I'm the greatest on the verse," reports Billboard. Footage of Bryant playing the game and being a father flashed across the screen. Weezy also added a new verse, honoring Vanessa Bryant and their kids.
“Heart goes out to Vanessa and the whole Black Mamba family," he rapped.
Celebrities Said The Names Of Black Lives Lost
In a powerful segment of the show, a number of celebrities honored Black men and women who have died as a result of racism and police brutality, reports BET. The segment started with a clip of James Baldwin saying “How much time do you want for your progress?”
Black Lives Matter co-founder, Patrisse Cullors, closed the segment.
“We will not lose,” she said.
Blue Ivy Wins Her First BET Award
Blue Ivy won her first-ever BET award, winning the HER Award for her song “Brown Skin Girl.” The song was in collaboration with her mother as well as WizKid and SAINt JHN for the album, The Lion King: The Gift. The award was announced during the pre-show, and the bestowment makes Blue Ivy the youngest person ever to take home a BET award, as Blavity previously reported.
Chloe x Halle's Dueling Two-In-One Performance
During lockdown, Chloe x Halle have been turning their home tennis court into a stage for their numerous performances, and the court did not disappoint for the BET Awards. The sisters performed “Forgive Me” and “Do It” from their latest album Ungodly Hour, reports Billboard. Their dueling two-in-one performance gave the at-home audience two different vibes — with a black latex ensemble for their first song and an all-white, ethereal look for the second. Bey’s protégés brought both looks together for the final breakdown, showing two pairs of the duo all dancing together, a visual that probably would not be possible on an in-person stage.
Michelle Obama Honors Beyoncé With The 2020 Humanitarian Award
One queen honoring another. Michelle Obama presented Beyoncé with the 2020 Humanitarian Award at Sunday night’s show.
“I am here to talk about The Queen, you know the one,” Obama said according to USA Today. “Ever since she was a little girl in Houston, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has been lighting up the stages and gracing the world with her talent, with her generosity of spirit and with her love for her community.”
The former first lady cited Beyoncé's activism and generosity as well as her talent. Tina Knowles-Lawson also made an appearance to praise her daughter for always being “blessed to give back” to the community. Beyoncé dedicated her award to “all of [her] brothers out there, all of [her] sisters out there inspiring [her], marching and fighting for change.”
She urged activists to keep going and touched on the importance of voting.
— Beyoncé Charts (@yoncechart) June 29, 2020
"I'm encouraging you to continue to take action, continue to work to change a racist and unequal system. We have to continue to do this together," she said. "We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does."
Kierra Sheard And Karen Clark Sheard Take Us To Church
Gospel singer Kierra Sheard took the virtual stage with her mother, Karen Clark Sheard, for the final performance of the night. They sang Kierra’s song “Something Has To Break” from her self-titled album.
“Tear down every lie, set the wrong thing right, cause when you have your way, something has to break,” they sang.
When the performance ended, Twitter erupted in virtual applause, thanking the mother-daughter duo for ending the night with a word.
— Gamerchić ???? (@ThereGoHoneyB) June 29, 2020
While the awards show was a little different this year than years prior, many seemed to enjoy it, citing the effort put into the performances.
— jefferyy.j (@JefferyB2021) June 29, 2020
Maybe next year, even when COVID-19 has passed, BET will opt for another virtual show.