Beyonce joined the ranks of activists like Muhammad Ali and Harry Belafonte on Sunday (June 28) when the 2020 BET Awards honored her with the BET Humanitarian Award during its socially distanced broadcast.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama appeared during the broadcast to present the honor to her pal Queen Bey. “No matter how big the stages get, I know my girl isn’t satisfied unless she’s sharing all that shine she has with the next generation. That’s why she’s always pulling up young performers like Chloe x Halle and that orchestra that dazzled us in her Homecoming special,” Obama said. “To my girl, I want to say: You inspire me, you inspire all of us.”
“Thank you so much for this beautiful honor,” said Beyonce after a montage honoring her accomplishments. “I want to dedicate this award to all of my brothers and sisters out there inspiring me, marching out there and fighting for change. Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain.
“We have one more thing we need to do to walk in our true power. And that is to vote,” Beyonce urged. “I’m encouraging you to continue to take action. Continue to change and dismantle a racist and unequal system,” she continued.
“There are people banking on us staying at home during local elections and primaries happening in states across the country…. We have to vote like our life depends on it. Because it does.”
The Grammy-winning singer’s BeyGood Foundation works toward a variety of causes, from awarding scholarships to providing free COVID-19 tests to getting clean water to the landlocked country of Burundi in Africa.
Previous honorees include Muhammad Ali, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Danny Glover, Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington, Harry Belafonte, Don Cheadle, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean, John Legend, Steve Harvey, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dwayne Wade, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Tom Joyner, Jesse Williams, Chance the Rapper, Naomi Wadler, Mamoudou Gassama, Justin Blackman, Shaun King, Anthony Borges, James Shaw Jr. and Nipsey Hussle.
Despite the pandemic, the summer is a busy one for Bey. On July 31, Beyonce will release the Black Is King visual album on Disney Plus, which draws upon music from The Lion King live action remake to show “the voyages of Black families, throughout time” and tell the story of “a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity,” according to the press release.