All hail Queen Bey! Beyoncé received a special honor at the 20th annual BET Awards on Sunday, June 28.
The “Black Parade” singer, 38, was selected as this year’s recipient of the Humanitarian Award. She was recognized for how she’s used her massive platform to contribute to various charitable endeavors, including the efforts made through her BeyGOOD initiative.
Beyoncé has used her BeyGOOD initiative to create scholarship programs and partner with UNICEF to provide the East African country Burundi with clean water and sanitation. She also teamed up with her mother, Tina Knowles, to provide mobile coronavirus testing to Houston’s black community.
During the telecast, former first lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to the 21-time Grammy winner, praising her “generosity of spirit and her love of her community” in everything from her music to her activism.
She added that Beyoncé calls “out sexism and racism when she sees it” and does “it all while staying devoted to her children and the loved ones she holds dear.”
After a video clip where stars like Tyler Perry praised her humanitarian efforts and BeyGOOD charity, Beyoncé gave a short one-minute prerecorded speech.
“I want to dedicate this award to all my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me and marching for change,” she said. “Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that 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,” she continued. “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 and primaries happening in states across the country. We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does. So please continue to be the change you want to see.”
The Humanitarian Award was established in 2002 during the second-ever BET Awards. Beyoncé joins Chance the Rapper, John Legend and Steve Harvey as some of the many Black stars who have earned the honor.
Beyoncé also scored four other nominations ahead of Sunday’s ceremony, including for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist and Album of the Year. She also holds the record for most BET Award wins at 30. She and daughter Blue Ivy picked up the BET Her Award for “Brown Skin Girl” earlier on Sunday night.
The former Destiny’s Child member has actively given back throughout her long career. In 2016, Beyoncé was named the Most Charitable Celebrity of 2016 by DoSomething.org. That year alone, she raised awareness for issues including the Black Lives Matter movement and the Flint, Michigan, water crisis.
In the midst of the political unrest nationwide in 2020, Beyoncé has used her voice to continue supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. She released “Black Parade” on June 20 to help support Black-owned businesses. She also penned an open letter to Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron to demand charges be made against the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor in March.
“Don’t let this case fall into the pattern of no action after a terrible tragedy,” she wrote in the letter posted on her official website on June 14. “With every death of a Black person at the hands of the police, there are two real tragedies: the death itself, and the inaction and delays that follow it. This is your chance to end that pattern. Take swift and decisive action in charging the officers. The next months cannot look like the last three.”