The 2015 Grammy Awards were filled with moving performances along with more than a few surprising and not-so-surprising wins. But with protests against police brutality continuing around the nation, the following displays of solidarity from some of the biggest musicians in the world are what really made me proud.
Pharrell ended his performance of "Happy" by joining his backup dancers in holding up their hands up in surrender.
"Hands up, don't shoot!" has become not only a protest cry but an important symbol in memory of Mike Brown, the unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. While the dispute over the events that led to Mike Brown's death continues, eyewitnesses reported his last words were "I don't have a gun. Stop shooting."
The moment that had my Twitter timeline on fire was Prince's succinct shoutout to the #BlackLivesMatter movement before handing out the award for Album of the Year.
Like books and black lives, albums still matter. — Prince
Beyoncé's performance of "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" also ended with her backup singers' hands up in a powerful moment of silent protest.
Finally, John Legend and Common's performance of "Glory" closed out the Grammys. The song is from the Oscar-nominated film "Selma," which follows the civil rights protests leading to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which enforced African-Americans' right to vote.
Hands to the Heavens, no man, no weapon
Formed against, yes glory is destined
Every day women and men become legends
Sins that go against our skin become blessings
The movement is a rhythm to us
Freedom is like religion to us
Justice is juxtaposition in us
Justice for all just ain't specific enough
One son died, his spirit is revisitin' us
Truant livin' livin' in us, resistance is us
That's why Rosa sat on the bus
That's why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up
When it go down we woman and man up
They say, "Stay down" and we stand up
Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up
King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up...
Selma's now for every man, woman and child
Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd
They marched with the torch, we gon' run with it now
Never look back, we done gone hundreds of miles
From dark roads he rose, to become a hero
Facin' the league of justice, his power was the people
Enemy is lethal, a king became regal
Saw the face of Jim Crow under a bald eagle
The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful
We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through
Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany
Now we right the wrongs in history
No one can win the war individually
It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people's energy
Welcome to the story we call victory
Comin' of the Lord, my eyes have seen the glory
— John Legend, "Glory"
While some might argue that an award show is not the place to make a political statement, I'd say one of the year's biggest televised events is the perfect time to bring attention to important issues. For all my gripes with celebrity and entertainment, it's important and inspiring to see celebs using their influence to educate audiences and encourage them to support important causes.
The Black Lives Matter movement isn't going anywhere anytime soon, so I'm happy to see artists like Beyoncé, Pharrell, John Legend, Common, and Prince show their support.