It would be unusual for the BET Awards to pass without some acknowledgement of the importance of Black Lives Matter — and the cast of Detroit's speech honoring lost black lives did not disappoint. While presenting the Centric Award, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, Laz Alonso, and Jacob Latimore took some time to memorialized some of the many black men and women who were killed by police violence in the last few years. In addition to simply stating their names, by itself a powerful gesture, the Detroit cast spoke up about the movements and protests that have exploded in several cities across the nation.
"Tonight is about celebrating the accomplishments of talented artists whose work touches the world with all things black and beautiful, but let's not forget what's happening in our country today. After L.A., Ferguson, Minneapolis, and Baltimore, we're still fighting for social justice," their speech began.
The cast then drew a connection between their film, which tells the story of how a police raid in 1967 prompted one of the largest race-related riots in American history, and how activism is needed to make a difference in the contemporary United States. "Our generation has power. The power to use our voices, our art, to influence change. We gotta influence change. We gotta stand up and vote," the speech finished.
But by far the most moving portion of the speech is the tribute: "Tonight, we honor our fallen brothers and sisters with a few of their names: Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin." You can read the full transcript of this touching moment below.
It's important that those names were a part of a night celebrating how much Black Americans have contributed to all forms of culture, entertainment and otherwise. And it's also important to see an awards show where it isn't controversial to hear the concept that Black Lives Matter.