Beyoncé accepts BET Humanitarian Award 2020: “We have to vote like our life depends on it – because it does”

"I want to dedicate this award to all my brothers and sisters out there, inspiring, marching and fighting for change. Your voices are being heard"

The BET Awards have recognised Beyoncé’s philanthropic contributions today by honouring her with the 2020 Humanitarian Award.

The pop icon was chosen for her work with foundation BeyGOOD – an initiative she developed during her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in 2013, which partners with local charities across America to provide funding and awareness.

Most recently, BeyGOOD announced a $6million project to support African-Americans during the current COVID-19 pandemic, including mental health and personal wellness care, testing and medical supplies, and food supplies and delivery.

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Beyoncé used her acceptance speech to advocate for voting in the upcoming election and “[continuing] to change and dismantle a racist and unequal system”.

“Thank you so much for this beautiful award. I want to dedicate this award to all my brothers and sisters out there, inspiring, marching and fighting for change,” she said.

“Your voices are being heard. You’re proving to your ancestors that their struggles were not in vain.

“We have one more thing to do, 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, to fight for each other and lift each other up.

“There are people banking on us staying home during local elections and primaries. We have to vote like our life depends on it – because it does.”

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Michelle Obama awarded Beyoncé with the prestigious accolade by praising her commitment to supporting and uplifting the Black community.

“She’s always turning up, looking out and making us all a little bit better, a little more fierce,” the former First Lady said.

“And she’s doing it all while staying devoted to her children and the loved ones she holds dear. To my girl, I just want to say – you inspire me. You inspire all of us.”

Just before the BET Awards aired, Beyoncé made an Instagram post in support of passing the HEROES Act – a bill that combats voter supression by providing a funding safety net to protect Black and Brown communities.

The $3trillion safety net would cover health care, housing, justice system reform and equal and safe access to voting.

Beyoncé released a new single called ‘Black Parade’ on Juneteenth that paid homage to both her heritage and womanhood. This came accompanied by a new initiative by the same name that promotes Black-owned businesses.

All proceeds from ‘Black Parade’ are going to BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund. Listen to an a capella performance of the track here.

Knowles-Carter also announced a new visual album that will drop next month exclusively on the Disney+ streaming platform. Black Is King (out July 31) is centred around the music of The Lion King: The Gift, a soundtrack that she curated while voicing Nala in the movie’s 2019 remake.

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