Grammys 2015: Race Takes Center Stage at Show

Erika Ramirez and Paige Phelan, CNN, February 9, 2015

Sprinkled throughout the 57th Grammy Awards on Sunday were tributes to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which is a call to action and response to anti-Black racism created after unjust deaths of young black men.

Pharrell Williams–who won three Grammy awards (Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best Pop Performance)–led a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” demonstration during his performance of “Happy.” Williams payed homage to late 18-year old, unarmed Michael Brown who was killed by a police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo.¬†{snip}

Williams’ backup dancers wore black hoodies, such as Trayvon Martin did when killed at 17-years old 2012 by George Zimmerman.

Before presenting Beck with the Album of the Year award, Prince reminded the audience of the influential movement: “Albums still matter. Like books and black lives, they still matter.”

During Beyonc√©’s spectacular gospel 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.


Usher added to the causes at play this year with a Stevie Wonder tribute heavily focused on diversity. Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez compounded that need and celebration of diversity with a clear message of her own as she introduced Colombian star Juanes and his song “Juntos”: “When people of various backgrounds work together, they can accomplish so much more.”


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