R&B singer Usher used his performance at Sunday night’s BET Awards to make a statement about the 2016 presidential election by donning a shirt featuring an anti-Donald Trump slogan on the back.
The 37-year-old singer wore a button-down shirt with the phrase “Don’t Trump America” written in bolded white letters on the back while performing his hit song “No Limit.”
— Ledculture.com (@led_culture) June 27, 2016
Usher wasn’t the only one at the annual awards show to make a political statement from the stage. Actor Samuel L. Jackson was honored with the evening’s Lifetime Achievement Award and urged attendees and viewers at home to vote in this year’s elections, shortly after Grey’s Anatomy star and Humanitarian Award winner Jessie Williams delivered a speech on race and the state of education in America while accepting his own award.
“Remember, what everybody’s been saying tonight is true,” Jackson said during his acceptance speech. “What Jesse said… I mean, Jesse’s the closest thing I’ve heard to a 1960s activist. That brother is right and he’s true and when you hear what he’s saying, make sure you vote and take eight more people to vote so we can fix this.”
“Don’t get tricked like they got tricked in London,” Jackson added, apparently referring to the United Kingdom’s vote Thursday to exit the European Union.
Sunday night’s BET Awards featured performances by a mix of established and younger artists, including Stevie Wonder, Janelle Monae, Tori Kelly and Maxwell, who each performed tributes to late music icon Prince.
Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar kicked off Sunday night’s show with a surprise performance of “Freedom” off of the pop queen’s recent album Lemonade.
Beyoncé won the night’s big prize, the Video of the Year Award, for her Black Lives Matter-inspired hit song “Formation.” The 34-year-old singer also won the Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award, but reportedly left the event shortly after her opening performance to travel to a scheduled concert in London.
The night’s other big winners included Drake (Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, Best Group, with Future), Taraji P. Henson (Best Actress), Michael B. Jordan (Best Actor) and newcomer Bryson Tiller (Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, Best New Artist), who also performed during the show.
See the complete winner’s list from Sunday night’s show here, courtesy of Variety.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum