The 20th BET Awards, honoring Black excellence in entertainment and sports, took place Sunday, June 28, making for the first virtual presentation of the annual ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic. The show kicked off with a powerful opening message from the host: actress, and comedian Amanda Seales.
The “Insecure” actress addressed the recent nationwide protests and called for justice. Seales also clarified the notion that all she talks about is race and revealed that while she would love to talk about “regular, everyday things, racism always beats me to it.”
Seales, 38, went on to mention the names of Black people killed by police such as Trayvon Martin and Botham Jean and pointed out that Breonna Taylor’s killers have yet to be arrested. The night continued with several star-studded performances, speeches, and a humanitarian award presented by former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. Check out that and other highlights from the 2020 BET Awards below.
1. Fight The Power performance
The night’s performances started off with 12-year-old internet sensation Keedron Bryant, who sang his viral hit “I Just Wanna Live.” Following his set, members Chuck D and Flavor Flav of the legendary hip-hop group Public Enemy performed their 1989 classic “Fight the Power.” The song included new verses from Nas, Rapsody and Black Thought from the Roots who spoke on current protests and paid tribute to Black people who’ve lost their lives due to police brutality.
2. Megan Thee Stallion channels post-apocalyptic film ‘Mad Max’ during her performance
Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion performed her new song “Girls in the Hood” and her hit single “Savage Remix” during her Mad Max-inspired set that took place in the desert. The 25-year-old made sure to practice social distancing as she and her background dancers twerked in leather outfits. Megan’s performance included a multi-story stage, abandoned cars, crazy choreography, and a jaw-dropping split. Of course, fan reaction was nothing short of hilarious, including Twitter user Kenneth Spears who tweeted, “My dad saw @theestallion performance and was like ‘My Lawd.’” Megan also took home the award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist and Viewer’s Choice.
3.Former First Lady Michelle Obama presents Beyoncé with the BET Humanitarian Award
This year, BET presented the Humanitarian award to global superstar Beyoncé for her philanthropic efforts. Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a warm message to the singer, thanking her for her activism.
“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,” Obama said. “And no matter how big the stages get, I know my girl isn’t satisfied unless she’s sharing all the shine she has with the next generation.”
In her speech, the “Brown Skin Girl” singer thanked protesters across the country for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and encouraged viewers to go out and vote during state primaries and in November’s general election. “Your voices are being heard, and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain,” the mother of three said. “I encourage you to take action to continue to change. We have to vote like our lives depend on it, because it does.”
In honor of Juneteenth, Beyoncé released, on her website, a single titled “Black Parade” celebrating blackness and an initiative of the same name promoting Black businesses.
4.DaBaby and Roddy Ricch pay tribute to George Floyd with a Black Lives Matter remix of “Rockstar”
North Carolina rapper DaBaby is recognized for his eye-catching visuals as well as his catchy lyrics, and his BET Award performance on Sunday proved precisely why. DaBaby’s production of “Rockstar” opened with a police officer kneeling on his neck, a direct reenactment of the last moments of George Floyd’s life. Floyd, a Black man, died earlier this month after a former Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death was caught on video and has since sparked protests in all 50 states and 13 countries.
Later in his set, DaBaby was seen surrounded by protesters in front of a burning police car as he rapped to the “Black Lives Matter” remix of his single. Roddy Ricch rapped along while on top of a vehicle.
5.Lil Wayne honors the late Kobe Bryant
Lil Wayne closed out the show’s In Memoriam segment with a heartfelt tribute to the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant with a performance of his 2009 song named after the athlete. Clips from Bryant’s career with the Los Angeles Lakers played as Wayne rapped, “This is Black Power status. Two fingers for the Mambacita. I’m screaming,’ Black Mamba matters.”
On Jan. 26, 2020, Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others tragically lost their lives after their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California. The group was on their way to a basketball tournament. Kobe was 41.