On Sunday, MTV made it clear that while the focus of the VMAs is music, our current political climate still needed to be addressed. On the day of the show, MTV announced that Heather Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, would speak at the VMAs, specifically presenting Best Fight Against the System, a first-time award designed to honor "the audience's passion and activism surrounding environmental justice, immigration, LGBTQ equality, and racial justice," according to MTV. In a twist, the network awarded all six recipients for their work to keep the world moving forward toward good.
Heyer was killed during the violent Charlottesville riots when she was acting as a counter-protester. Bro has shown herself to be as strong as Heyer, dedicated to fighting the causes that Heyer died for. She also stood firm against Trump after he placed blame on both sides of the protests in Charlottesville. At the VMAs, Bro was introduced by a descendent of Robert E. Lee, a symbol of white supremacy, who condemned his ancestor and applauded people, like Heyer, who take a stand for what's right.
Bro used the show as a platform to announce her new organization dedicated to Heyer, while encouraging viewers to go to the website to help her "make Heather's death count." Bro's entire speech was incredibly moving. She said,
"Only 15 days ago, my daughter Heather was killed as she protested racism. I miss her, but I know she's here tonight. I have been deeply moved to see people across the world — the whole world — find inspiration in her courage. Today, I'm announcing the launch of the Heather Heyer Foundation, a non-profit organization that will provide scholarships to help more people join Heather's fight against hatred. Please visit our website to help me make Heather's death count."
After that, she went on to explain the impacts of the night's nominees. Bro said,
"In that spirit, MTV has decided to honor all six nominees for Best Fight Against The System. Through their diversity, these six videos show there are many ways to take action and many battlegrounds in the fight for social good. Big Sean decried violence. Alessia Cara spoke out against body-shaming. The Hamilton Mixtape and John Legend both took on the targeting of immigrants. Logic and Damian Lemar Hudson celebrated diversity. Taboo and Shailene Woodley rebelled against government exploitation. I congratulate all these artists on their VMA tonight and I look forward to the important work that they, and all of you, will do together to make the world a better, kinder place. "
While Bro was skeptical when MTV first approached her, it wound up being one of the most powerful moments of the night. She told People beforehand,
"When they first asked me I hadn’t realized how far-reaching Heather’s message had been. But now I’ve realized this is bigger than Heather, this is bigger than me. This is something that touches people everywhere, the idea that you can stand up and be counted, that you have it within you to be that hero, so I feel like I have an obligation to share that."
After seeing the audiences response to Bro's speech, it's clear she made the right choice. Heyer's legacy and Bro's actions are certain to have an ever-lasting impact on the consciousness of America. It's great to see the VMAs providing a platform for progress.