Sandwiched between the snubs, the meme-worthy moments and the general hubbub that is usually found in the Grammys was a reoccurring tribute and sign of solidarity from black artists to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
During the recent 57th Grammy Awards, whether in the form of performances, winner announcements or speeches, some artists made sure to take advantage of such a world stage to continue to spread the message of the unjust killings of several black young men throughout America. That it was the 6 month anniversary of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting by Darren Wilson in Ferguson made the gesture even the more powerful.
Pharrell Williams led a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” demonstration during his performance of “Happy. Williams’ backup dancers wore black hoodies, such as Trayvon Martin did when killed at 17-years old in 2012 by George Zimmerman.
Prince made sure to remind the audience, in the pseudo-sardonic way that only Prince can, of the influential movement when he was presenting the Album of the Year award: “Albums still matter. Like books and black lives, they still matter.”
During Beyoncé’s gospel hued performance of “Precious Lord Take My Hand” — written by Gospel legend Thomas A. Dorsey — the all male choir behind her raised their hands, also acting out the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture.
Other entertainers made the plea for increased diversity and the merits of different cultures working together. Usher, with his Stevie Wonder tribute, and Golden Globe winning actress Gina Rodriguez with her introduction of Latin artist Juanes to the stage.