At Wednesday night’s (Oct. 14) Billboard Music Awards, Killer Mike accepted the first-ever Billboard Change Maker Award for his work as a musician and social-justice activist.
The Run the Jewels rapper was presented with the inaugural award by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms from the APEX Museum of African-American history in Mike’s hometown.
“Kids out there that sing and dance: What you do is worthy,” Mike said in his acceptance speech, emphasizing to the youth that look up to him that they should use their talents and their platform to effect change in their communities. “You are artists and your goal should be to express the very reality around you in the very most beautiful or ugliest of ways you see fit. Kids who run and dance and sing and jump and all that, all the things they tell you don’t matter — you matter more than you know.”
He also made a point to thank his wife, Shana, for standing by his side and promising not to be a “martyr” for his causes, evoking the names of late, great heroes Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X: “This is our award,” he said to Shana. (Watch his full speech below.)
According to a press release announcing the new prize, “The Billboard Change Maker Award honors the artist or group that speaks truth to power through their music, celebrity and community. They are socially conscious, politically aware, active in their community and charitable with time, money and/or influence to improve the lives of others.”
Kelly Clarkson returned to host the Billboard Music Awards for a third time on Wednesday night, guiding the audience-free show live from LA’s Dolby Theatre.
Throughout his 20-year music career, @KillerMike has been instrumental in social justice and civil rights movements and that is why he is our Billboard Change Maker! Congrats! #BBMAs pic.twitter.com/GIwiSUmdJM
— Billboard Music Awards (@BBMAs) October 15, 2020