Michelle Obama Proudly Presents Beyoncé With Humanitarian Honor at BET Awards
By Jennifer Drysdale
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Beyoncé was recognized for her charitable work at the 2020 BET Awards on Sunday night. The virtual awards show presented the artist with the Humanitarian Award. The award was first given out at the show in 2002, to Muhammad Ali. Over the years, John Legend, Alicia Keys and Chance the Rapper have been given the honor; Nipsey Hussle received the Humanitarian Award in 2019.
None other than Michelle Obama presented the award to her "girl," Bey, at Sunday's awards show.
"I am here today to talk about the queen. You know the one," Obama began. "Ever since she was a little girl in Houston, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has been lighting up the stages and gracing the world with her talent with her generosity of spirit, and with her love for her community. You can see it in everything she does, from her music that give a voice to Black joy and Black pain, to her activism that demands justice for Black lives."
"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," she added. "That's why she's calling out sexism and racism when she sees it, paving a path for new artists who are trying to navigate the music industry. That's why she went out of her way to rewrite 'Get Me Bodied' for the White House's Let's Move campaign, and got a whole lot of kids shakin' it on the dance floor."
"She's always turning up, looking out, and making us all a little bigger, better, a little more fierce. And she's doing it all while staying devoted to her children and the loved ones she holds dear. So to my girl, I just want to say, you inspire me. You inspire all of us, which is why I am so proud to name Beyoncé the 2020 BET Awards' Humanitarian of the Year honoree," Obama concluded. "Congratulations, girl. Love you so much."
Bey dedicated her award to "all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me, marching and fighting for change."
"Your voices are being heard, and you are proving to our ancestors at their struggles were not in vain. Now, we have one more thing we need to do to walk in our true power and that is to vote. I'm encouraging you to continue to take action, continue to change and dismantle a racist and unequal system. We have to continue to do this together, continue to fight for each other and lift each other up because there are people banking on us staying at home during local elections in primaries happening in states across the country," she said. "We have to vote like our life depends on it."
"So, please continue to be the change you want to see," Bey added, thanking BET for her award. A trailer for Bey's upcoming visual album, Black Is King, played to close out the segment.
The BeyGOOD founder has used her platform and organization to support incredible initiatives. In 2017, she established "Formation Scholars," to encourage and support young women pursuing higher education. She also partnered with UNICEF the same year to create "BeyGood4Burundi," to bring safe water and sanitation to the the East African country of Burundi. In 2018, she created the Homecoming Scholars Award Program, to benefit students at eight HBCU colleges and universities.
Bey has also been supporting those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. She and her mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, teamed up for the #IDidMyPart mobile testing initiative to encourage residents in Houston in Black and brown communities to get tested for coronavirus, especially as they are disproportionately affected by the disease. She has also donated to support organizations on the ground helping to meet basic health and mental needs in vulnerable communities affected by the crisis. Following the release of her latest song, "Black Parade," and in honor of Juneteenth, the mom of three announced the creation of BeyGOOD's Black Business Impact Fund, administered by the National Urban League, to support Black-owned small businesses.
In an interview with ET ahead of the show, BET Awards pre-show co-host Terrence J said there was nobody more deserving than Queen Bey for the Humanitarian Award.
"Beyoncé does so much. Not just in front of the camera, but behind the scenes as well, across the board, to help humanity. I saw her a few weeks ago write a letter to the district attorney to get justice for [Breonna Taylor]. She's donating money to numerous charities -- everything from women's rights to Black Lives Matter. She's just a true philanthropist in front of the camera," Terrence said.
"I've just seen her behind the scenes just work tirelessly help people to use her voice and her platform to just further humanity," he added. "So, I think there's nobody more deserving than the Queen Bey herself."