Janelle Monáe, Jazmine Sullivan, And More Slam Roe V. Wade Ruling At BET Awards

Janelle Monáe, Jazmine Sullivan, And More Slam Roe V. Wade Ruling At BET Awards

The BET Awards on Sunday night (June 26) were a celebration of the invaluable work of Black artists everywhere, celebrating the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Latto, and Kendrick Lamar. They also became a platform for those creatives to create their voices heard, as several attendees used the stage to criticize the Supreme Court’s choice to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that customary a constitutional right to abortion.

Lizzo kicked off the show with an efficiency of her latest single “About Damn Time,” bringing along her flute for a rousing solo, which has become a signature of her live performances. Then, Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson, who hosted for the second year in a row, praised Black entertainers with her starting speech. She called back to the song’s title to criticize the stripping of human rights and favoring guns, referencing SCOTUS’s Thursday (June 23) ruling on permitting open firearm carrying in public.

“It’s about damn time we talk about the fact that guns have more rights than a woman. It’s a sad day in America,” she mentioned. “A weapon that can take lives has more power than a woman that can give life if she chooses to." She also thanked Lizzo for recently pledging $1 million of her tour proceeds to benefit Offered Parenthood.

Janelle Monáe, the initial presenter of the night for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, praised female, queer, and nonbinary Black artists for “making art on our own terms, owning our truth and expressing ourselves freely and unapologetically in a global that tries to control and police our bodies, my body, and our decisions.” She then contained up a middle finger to the camera, saying, “Fuck you, Supreme Court.”

“I know we're celebrating us now as we should,” she continued. “We absolutely deserve to celebrate — especially right now we should celebrate our art by protecting our right and our truths."

Monáe then reported Jazmine Sullivan because the winner. Throughout her acceptance speech, the “Pick Up Your Feelings” singer addressed the males in the audience connected with the overturn. “It's a hard time now for us, and I'd like to speak directly to the males Sullivan mentioned. "We need y'all. We need y'all to stand up for us, stand up with us. If you have previously benefited from a woman creating one of the toughest decisions of her life, which is to terminate a pregnancy, you have to be standing with us."

"This isn't just a woman's issue,” she concluded. “This is everybody's distribute. And we need you more than ever."

Rapper Latto, who won the coveted award for Best New Artist, also mentioned while in her acceptance speech: “It’s giving pro-choice. It’s never giving a gentleman policing my body.”

The ceremony saw some other big moments and surprises, also. Doja Cat, Drake, and Ari Lennox racked up the most nominations with six and four categories respectively, but none of the three went house with any wins. Silk Sonic took the coveted Album of the Year award for An Evening Silk Sonic, as well as Best Categorize. Kendrick Lamar won Best Male Hip-Hop Artist and Video of the Year for “Family Ties,” on which he collaborated with his cousin Baby Keem. Mariah Carey made a surprise efficiency with Latto, fabulously bringing “Big Energy” as well as rapper Young Dirty Bastard, who remixed with each other with Carey in her classic “Fantasy.”

Kanye West also shocked the audience with a rare public appearance, his first at an award show since the 2022 Grammy Awards prohibited him from performing at the ceremony due to “Concerning online behavior.” Covered head to toe with a cap, an oversized hoodie, baggy pants, leather gloves, shades, plus a black mask, he presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Sean “Diddy” Combs.

The BET Awards ended with a classic “In Memoriam” segment, honoring various celebrities who'd passed away inside over the past year. These included late style icons André Leon Talley and Virgil Abloh, musicians Traci Braxton and Biz Markie, and renowned actors Michael K. Williams, Cheslie Kryst, and Sidney Poitier. Shockingly, the tribute was cut short with the sound of gunshots as hundreds of names appeared on-screen. A final gunshot would be heard as a powerful message appeared: “In memory of all lives lost due to gun violence.”

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