Well, ladies and gentlemen — the rumors are true. Beyoncé indeed performed at the 2016 BET Awards, and she opened up the show (and her performance) of "Freedom" with snippets of a very famous speech. So, what was Beyoncé's opening performance quote? It was none other than one of the most famous speeches of all time — Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream."
The red carpet was full of gossip that Beyoncé would perform at the 2016 BET Awards — maybe for Prince, maybe jumping in with Chloe X Halle, her proteges — but I don't think anyone had any idea that she (and Kendrick Lamar, who guests on "Freedom" on Lemonade) would be opening the 2016 BET Awards with such a powerful performance. The scene went like this — painted backup dancers marched to the stage as Dr. King's words played, and then the lights came up on Beyoncé defiantly standing in a shimmering pool of water. It was so dramatic that I nearly fell off my couch (in a good way). "Freedom" is a song about breaking through your chains — literal or metaphoric — because "a winner don't quit on themselves." Dr. King's words are also about freedom and breaking down barriers, so the fact that Beyoncé chose the following words made them poignant and meaningful over 60 years after they were uttered. Here are the lines that Beyoncé used:
"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt… So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."
And this isn't the first time that Beyoncé has leaned on the words of others to prove her point. For her song, "Flawless," Beyoncé used part of a speech from writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called "We Should All Be Feminists." Amen to that, right? After all, if one person says something important, some people could hear it. But if two very powerful people do? Well, that just expands a message exponentially, and Beyoncé knows that.