From actors to musicians to social activists to heartfelt tributes and performances from some of the talents that paved the way for what is Black culture right now, this year’s BET Awards was on point and definitely one to remember. Here are just 10 of our favorite things:
1. #BlackGirlMagic was on full blast. The show was hosted by the hilarious Leslie Jones, star of SNL and Ghostbusters, and ya’ girl kept the crowd laughing with her signature outrageous style and her volume on one thousand.
2.Bruno Mars showed up and showed out with that opening set. Dancing across the stage with trombone, trumpet, guitar, and sax players and challenging the audience to live up to their rep as the livest in the land.
3. Beyoncé took home 5 out of the 7 awards she was nominated for. Queen Bey recently gave birth to twins, so she was unable to accept her awards in person. That didn’t stop her from slaying the show with her incredible influence, though. Plus, our former cover girls Chloe and Halle accepted her viewer’s choice award for Sorry by reading Bey’s heartfelt letter of appreciation.
4. Former Sesi cover girl, Yara Shahidi, used her win as her platform. When the black-ish (and now grown-ish) star accepted her award, she also acknowledged that it would have been Tamir Rice’s 15th birthday and praised BET for celebrating Blackness. “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.”
5. Our #ForeverFLOTUS made a surprise video appearance to give props to Chance the Rapper. Not only did Chance bag the Best New Artist Award, but at just 24 years old, he also became the youngest ever to be honored with the Humanitarian Award.
6. ’90s hip-hop influence was all up in the place. From the legendary Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul Mary J. Blige to a reunion performance by Xscape to Solange’s shout out to the ’90s greats that influenced her, this year’s BET Awards paid mad tribute to the culture that paved the way.
7. Mobb Deep’s Prodigy was honored by Lil’ Kim, Havoc, and of course Kendrick Lamar. Lil’ Kim referred to the late legend as “our brother” as she and Havoc expressed their love for him and their sadness at his passing. Prodigy died last week from complications of sickle cell disease.
8. The cast of the upcoming movie, Detroit, paid tribute to a few of those lost to police violence. As they presented the Centric Award to Solange for Cranes in the Sky, they made sure to acknowledge the realities our people are facing outside of this celebration.
9. Social change and activism stayed front and center. Now more than ever in our lifetimes, staying woke is so necessary. This year, BET and My Black is Beautiful honored Tamika Mallory (co-chair of the Women’s March and longtime activist) with the Shine a Light Award.
10. New Edition proved that #BlackBoyJoy only gets better with age. Who better to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award than a group whose influence is still so prevalent 30 years later? Coming through with the most lit performance of the night, the cast of The New Edition Story and the actual New Edition threw down on that stage.