By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — For anyone concerned that the BET Awards might not prove a good fit for broadcast TV, the show Sunday night worked quite well on CBS. Aside from a handful of expletives deleted, the broadcast TV verson was just as cutting edge and provocative as the cable version. Considering this was on a network that’s historically been the most conservative of the major ones in terms of content, Sunday night’s program hosted by “Insecure” actress and comedian Amanda Seales had plenty of powerful moments, kicked off by a dynamic performance from 12-year-old
Keedron Bryant. His song “I Just Wanna Live’ has become a viral sensation. That was followed by an equally vibrant rendition of “Fight The Power” from Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Flavor Flav, joined by Rapsody.
That was followed by a monologue from Seals that was unrelenting in its critiques of racism and police misconduct. This was the evening’s consistent theme, with the mantra “Our Culture Can’t Be Canceled” frequently shown visually. It was the ceremonies’ 20th anniversary, and the show was certainly done in a different fashion. There was no runway or presenters on the podium, as all the performances and interviews were done visually. The show also continually referenced both the ongoing protests happening nationwide and the number of Blacks killed by police. Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and George Floyd were cited, and “Black Lives Matter” was often heard and seen.
Other highlights included Wayne Brady honoring Little Richard and Lil’ Wayne paying tribute to Kobe Bryant. Former First Lady Michelle Obama presented Beyonce with the night’s biggest honor, the Humanitarian Award. “You can see it in everything she does, from her music that gives voice to Black joy and Black pain, to her activism that demands justice for Black lives,” said Obama. “And 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.”
Beyoncé in turn thanked the protesters across the country for supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement. “Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain,” said the singer. “I encourage you to take action, to continue to change. We have to vote like our lives depend on it, because it does,” she added. The show aired on WTF-5 locally and ran just a couple of minutes over three hours.