Sunday night's VERZUZ battle between Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond on Instagram Live was a much-needed celebration of Black love and healing through the power of music. But the event didn't shy away from addressing the very real effects of police brutality happening across the country.
One remarkable moment during the battle was when Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, joined the session.
“We weep with you. We hurt with you,” Franklin told the grieving mother, who he called on the phone.
She replied, “Thank you so much. Your support means so much to us. Please continue to lift us up in prayer.”
Hammond and Franklin wore black “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts, a reference to the police killing on Monday (May 25) of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This special Verzuz was billed as a healing battle to lift the spirits after a series of killings of unarmed Black people.
Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests. It was a tipping point that included the killings Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. and 25-year-old Arbery of Brunswick, Ga.
Two white men — Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34 — chased Arbery in a pickup truck and gunned him down in February. There was no arrest in the case until a shocking video of the shooting surfaced in May.
Before the arrests, Cooper-Jones said she feared there would be no justice for her son. She at least has “a sense of hope” now.
Producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz created and launched Verzuz in March after the Coronavirus forced several governors to mandate sheltering in place. Each week, music celebrities go head-to-head on Instagram Live.
BET has been covering every angle of George Floyd’s death in police custody, other social justice cases and the subsequent aftermath and protests. For our continuing coverage, click here.