The 2017 BET Awards was full of major musical performances Sunday night. But some presenters and winners made sure to acknowledge the social issues that continue to plague our people.
While the show boasted some major fashion moments, celebrity highlights and one cool reunion, here are the woke call-outs we hope you didn’t miss.
The Cast Of “Detroit” Say Their Names
The cast of the upcoming film “Detroit” took the stage to hand out an award and introduce the their movie trailer. While on stage, Laz Alonso, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore and Jason Mitchell made sure to name the Black lives that have been cut short by police shootings and vigilante violence in the last few years. From Sandra Bland and Alton Sterling to Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, the names were a reminder of the work we still need to do.
“We have the power to use our voices, art, to influence change,” the cast said.
Yara Shahidi Remembers Tamir Rice
Black-ish’s Yara Shahidi took home the night’s “Young Star Award.” While accepting the prize, the soon-to-be Harvard student acknowledged Tamir Rice, who would have been 15-years-old Sunday.
“I’d like to thank BET for celebrating our culture so beautifully when it isn’t being celebrated everywhere else as it should be,” she said. “Today is Tamir Rice’s birthday and so amidst the celebration I’d love to honor his life.”
My Black Is Beautiful “Shine A Light” Honorees
BET recognized Black leaders that were doing work that directly benefited their communities. Sponsored by My Black is Beautiful, the “Shine A Light” honorees this year were civil rights advocate Tamika D. Mallory, and brothers Michael and Martellus Bennett for their work with underserved children.
Chance The Rapper Is Our Humanitarian Leader
The BET Awards chose Chance The Rapper as the recipient of the night’s Humanitarian Award. His speech was both joyous and woke — a testament to everything Chance is about. Introduced by former First Lady Michelle Obama, Chance touched on everything in his speech including the prison industrial complex, police brutality, the Chicago school system, the weed economy, and fatherhood among other things.
“Chance you are an outstanding role model and an inspiration to all of us who care about our next generation,” Obama said of Chance.
You can find more coverage of the BET Awards, here.