Contemporary Black excellence and resistance across media took center stage at last night’s (June 25) BET Awards ceremony. "Saturday Night Live" star Leslie Jones hosted an evening filled with performances, speeches, awards and honors celebrating the past year in Black creativity, activism and empowerment. Here are just a few highlights from that night, accompanied by videos courtesy of BET.com:
Chance the Rapper’s Humanitarian Award Speech:
Artist and philanthropist Chance the Rapper accepted the Humanitarian Award with a speech demanding drug sentencing reform and educational and judicial accountability, bringing much of the audience to its feet:
I had plans, originally, to try and tell the world and everybody watching how to make it a better place. To tell everybody in this government that y’all need to let everybody out of jail for selling weed before y’all start making it legal for people to sell it and make capital off it! [applause] I was going to tell the Chicago public school system not to take out a loan from Chase bank when they know that our schools are planning on failing in our district. I was going to tell those judges that we just need a conviction when you know these n****s is wrong for doing this. [applause] But my big homie Reese told me that we got to work on ourselves before we can work on the world. … I’m a good man, and I’mma become a better man.
More praise for Chance’s philanthropic work came from fellow Chicagoan and former First Lady Michelle Obama, courtesy of a video highlighting that work:
"The New Edition Story" Cast Joins the Group to Light Up the Stage:
The ’80s R&B group performed "Mr. Telephone Man" and "Can You Stand the Rain" with the two sets of actors who portrayed them in BET’s record-breaking biopic miniseries.
Havoc, Lil’ Kim and Kendrick Lamar Honor Prodigy
The Mobb Deep co-founder Havoc, contemporary and collaborator Lil’ Kim, and rapper Kendrick Lamar all shared their respect for the recently deceased Prodigy, as shown in TMZ‘s video above.
Watch more highlights and see the full list of winners over at BET.com.
(H/t CBS Chicago, Deadline)