As the only award show solely designed to celebrate the best in Black entertainment, the BET Awards has been a space for our community to shine.
It’s also been an avenue for Black entertainers and artists to highlight the social issues that continue to plague our community, a need that has never felt more essential as thousands of people across the U.S. take to the streets to protest the police killing of George Floyd.
From Usher to Kendrick Lamar, the BET stage has been an avenue for some of the most thought-provoking performances. Here are five poignant performances that shed a light and offered commentary on the societal injustices the Black community is still facing today.
Be sure to tune into the virtual BET Awards ceremony on June 28th at 8 pm EST.
Donning matching all-black ensembles reminiscent of the Black Panthers, H.E.R. and YBN Cordae took the stage at the 2019 BET Awards for a special rendition of the “Lord Is Coming” from H.E.R.’s Grammy-nominated compilation album, I Used To Know Her. The R&B songstress opened the set with some stirring spoken word about faith in times of uncertainty before launching into her portion of the song. Cordae joined H.E.R. as he rapped about the many injustices that Black people are up against everyday.
In his first performance following his release from prison on bail, the Philly MC debuted this Miguel-assisted single at the 2018 BET Awards. Transforming the stage into an inner-city neighborhood, Meek Mill touched on a number of injustices that plague the Black community to this day, from an unfair justice system to police brutality and systematic racism.
Taking the stage at the 2017 BET Awards, Chance was presented the Humanitarian Award by our forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama for his philanthropic work. While onstage, Chance used the moment to highlight some of social issues that are plaguing the U.S., including an ailing education system and criminal justice inequalities.
During his performance at the 2016 BET Awards, Usher had a pointed message for the U.S. ahead of the presidential elections. The R&B great took the stage donning a green jacket with the words “Don’t Trump America” emblazoned across the back in white, block letters during his performance of “No Limits” with Young Thug.
In this performance of his temporal classic, the Compton MC kicked off the 2015 BET Awards ceremony with an powerful performance of “Alright” from his Grammy-winning album, To Pimp a Butterfly. The stage opened with K.Dot atop a vandalized police car backdropped by a waving American flag. Since it’s release, the song has gone on to become an anthem for many for its embedded commentary on historical oppression of Black people in America.
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.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET)