At the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, Beyoncé made one of the few coherent political statements of the night when she invited the mothers of four black men killed in racially charged episodes to join her on the red carpet.
The mothers of the four men, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Oscar Grant III — Sybrina Fulton, Gwen Carr, Lezley McSpadden and Wanda Johnson — all saw their sons’ lives cut short over the past seven years. Mr. Martin was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer, while the other three men were killed in encounters with law enforcement officials. Their deaths helped give rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Beyoncé, who on Sunday night won the video of the year award for her song “Formation,” used the rollout of her visual album “Lemonade” this year to align herself with the message of that movement.
Late in the video for “Formation,” which is filled with imagery of the police confronting black people, a wall is emblazoned with graffiti flatly stating, “Stop shooting us.” In the hourlong visual accompaniment for “Lemonade,” which premiered on HBO in April, the camera lingers achingly on Ms. Fulton, Ms. Carr and Ms. McSpadden as they hold portraits of their sons.
Beyoncé was also accompanied on the red carpet by her daughter, Blue Ivy, as well as Chloe and Halle Bailey, the sisters she has signed to her label, Parkwood, and the model Winnie Harlow. All were featured in “Lemonade.” Jay Z, Beyoncé’s husband, was not on the red carpet and did not appear to be present during the broadcast of the show.
In accepting her award, Beyoncé did not make any reference to the political imagery of the video or explicitly acknowledge the women she brought with her to the show. But the finale of the showstopping medley of songs she performed earlier in the night was, of course, “Formation.” – New York Times
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