By Hayden Wright
#BlackLivesMatter founders Alicia Garza and Darnell Moore opened the 2016 hip-hop honors with a powerful call to action, and the night’s speakers and honorees drove the same message home to viewers. Common paid tribute to black women who have borne the burden of police shootings, including Diamond Reynolds—who filmed a powerful video of her boyfriend Philando Castile’s death at the hands of a police officer last week.
He credited them with standing on the “front lines in our ongoing movement for justice.”
“I’m talking about Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Shirley Chisholm, I’m talking about the Black Lives Matter founders,” said Common.
“And I’m also talking about every day women,” he continued. “Women like Diamond Reynolds, who filmed the police killing [Philando Castile]. Who tried to calmly deescalate the deadly situation and hours later, was at her governor’s mansion, demanding justice.”
Honoree Queen Latifah discussed the everyday prejudice and systematic racism black Americans—even those with fame and fortune—continue to face in their lives.
“I don’t care how much money, or things I have,” she said. “If I go outside and try to hail a cab and he passes me for the white woman standing right there, that racism is still alive and kicking. And we have to change that. And I’m not blaming the white lady, she needed a cab too.”
Watch Common and Queen Latifah’s remarks here: