LOS ANGELES (AP) – BeyoncÃ© used her platform Sunday while accepting the BET humanitarian award to relay a direct appeal to viewers: Go vote.
â€œYour voices are being heard and youâ€™re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain,â€ 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 systematic racism and equal rights.
BeyoncÃ© 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 â€œracist and unequal systemâ€ in America.
â€œIâ€™m encouraging you to take action,â€ 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.
â€œWe have to vote like our lives depend on it, because it does,â€ she said.
Here are some additional highlights from the three-hour show broadcast on CBS, BET and BET Her:
Rapper DaBaby lay on the pavement while an actor playing a police officer pressed his knee on the rapperâ€™s neck.
The reenactment at the beginning of the multi-platinum rapper’s performance offered a glimpse into the last moments of the life of George Floyd, killed by Minneapolis police last month. DaBaby rapped a verse from the Black Lives Matter remix of his hit song â€œRockstarâ€ with Roddy Ricch at the awards.
While holding a baseball bat, DaBaby then stood on a stage behind a group of people who had their fists raised high while others held â€œBlack Lives Matterâ€ signs.
His performance also featured images from protests, a reflection of the current world in the wake of Floydâ€™s death and the deaths of others, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
WEEZY HONORS KOBE
On a virtual stage, Lil Wayne paid tribute to the Black Mamba.
The rapper honored the late Kobe Bryant with a performance of his song â€œKobe Bryant,â€ highlighting the NBA iconâ€™s biggest moments. He paid tribute to Bryant who died in a helicopter crash in January that killed eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
Wayne weaved in new lyrics as Bryantâ€™s No. 8 and 24 flashed behind him. His performance showed video clips of the Los Angeles Lakers star dunking on Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, hitting game-winning shots and highlights from his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
â€œI call him King Bryant,â€ Wayne rapped. â€œNow let the crown show.â€
LITTLE RICHARD BOP
Wayne Brady transformed from his normal actor-comedian self into the flamboyant character of the late Little Richard.
Wearing a gold glittery tuxedo, Brady put on his best emulation during a tribute to Richard, who died of bone cancer in May. He rolled around on the top of a piano as he sung a medley hits from Richard, considered one of the chief architects of rock â€™nâ€™ roll.
â€œShut up!â€ Brady blurted out in the same manner as Richard. Some of Richardâ€™s hits Wayne performed included â€œLucy,â€ â€œGood Golly,â€ â€œMiss Mollyâ€ and â€œTutti Frutti.â€
Megan Thee Stallion took to the desert in a performance themed after the â€œMad Maxâ€ films.
Sporting a feathered crop top, she danced and twerked alongside her dancers who wore masks and maintained social distance amid the coronavirus pandemic. She performed her BeyoncÃ©-assisted hit â€œSavage Remixâ€ and â€œGirls in the Hood,â€ a revamp of Easy Eâ€™s 1987 song â€œBoyz-N-The Hood.â€
In the post-apocalyptic setting, she and her dancers rode through the desert landscape on dusty ATVs. The rapper closed out her performance after jumping on a silver-spike vehicle.
Megan Thee Stallionâ€™s performance came after she won best female hip-hop artist.
It didnâ€™t take long for host Amanda Seales to touch on equal rights for African Americans.
In a stirring monologue, Seales said she was chosen to host the show because sheâ€™s been â€œtelling yâ€™all everybodyâ€™s racist.â€ She touched on several topics including the death of Breonna Taylor, racial equality and took a jab at actor Terry Crews who faced recent backlash for his â€œBlack supremacyâ€ comment.
Seales joked she would rather talk about issues other than race, but â€œracism always beats me to it.â€
Her monologue came after an all-star performance of Public Enemyâ€™s 1989 anthem â€œFight the Power.â€ 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, Arbery and Taylor.
The 12-year-old sensation Keedron Bryant also performed in a cappella â€œI Just Wanna Live,â€ a song about being a young black man that earned him a record deal.