Beyoncé Recognized for Humanitarian Work at BET Awards: 'Please Continue to Be the Change'

Beyoncé was honored with the Humanitarian Award at the 20th annual BET Awards

Beyoncé's "Halo" is shining through her charity work.

On Sunday, the 24-time Grammy winner, 38, was honored with the Humanitarian Award at the 20th annual BET Awards.

"Your voices are being heard, and you're proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain," Beyoncé said during her acceptance speech. "We have one more thing we have to do to walk in our true power because there are people banking on us staying at home during local elections and primaries happening in states across the country. We have to vote like our life depends on it because it does. So please continue to be the change you want to see. Thank you everyone who took the time to speak in that beautiful presentation, and thank you BET for this honor. It means so much to me, especially coming from y'all. God bless you, and goodnight."

Prior to accepting the award, Beyoncé was introduced by former First Lady Michelle Obama, who began by saying she was "here today to talk about the queen."

"Ever since she was a little girl in Houston, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has been lighting up the stages and gracing the world with her talent, with her generosity and spirit and with her love for her community," she said. "You can see it in everything she does from her music that gives voice to Black joy and Black pain, to her activism that demands justice for Black lives."

CBS/ Youtube

"No matter how big the stages get, I know my girl isn't satisfied unless she's sharing all that shine she has with the next generation," she continued. "That's why she's always pulling up young performers like Chloe x Halle and that orchestra that dazzled us in her Homecoming special. That's why she's calling out sexism and racism when she sees it, paving a path for new artists who are trying to navigate the music industry. That's why she went out of her way to rewrite 'Get Me Bodied' for the White House's 'Let's Move!' campaign and got a whole lot of kids shaking it on the dance floor. She's always turning up, looking out and making us all a little bit better, a little more fierce and she's doing it all while staying devoted to her children and the loved ones she holds dear."

In conclusion, Obama, 56, called Beyoncé an inspiration to "all of us."

"I'm so proud to name Beyoncé the 2020 BET Awards Humanitarian of the Year honoree," she said. "Congratulations, girl. Love you so much."

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Michelle Obama</a>
Michelle Obama. CBS/ Youtube

Following Obama's introduction, the show then highlighted the philanthropic efforts Beyoncé has made throughout her career and featured testimonies made by her mom, Tina Knowles-Lawson, and Tyler Perry. In 2017, as part of her BeyGOOD initiative, Beyoncé established the "Formation Scholars" scholarship given to four female students pursuing creative arts, music, literature or African American studies. She also partnered with UNICEF for the BeyGood4Burundi project, which brings safe water and sanitation to the East African country Burundi, among other charitable endeavors.

Most recently, The Houston, Texas, native and her mother launched the #IDIDMYPART initiative providing coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits, masks and other supplies to Houston communities, encouraging residents to get tested for coronavirus and help stop the spread of the pandemic in Black communities.

On Juneteenth, Beyoncé dropped "Black Parade," an empowering track that draws on current events while celebrating Black excellence. Lyrics for the song — co-written with husband JAY-Z and other songwriters — praise the legacy of ancestors and chart a march toward an uplifting future.

"We got rhythm, we got pride/We birth kings, we birth tribes/Holy river, holy tongue/Speak the glory, feel the love," she sings. "I can't forget my history, it's her story."

Travis Matthews

The Beyhive wasn't just treated to a new single, either — shortly after the release of "Black Parade," Beyoncé announced the creation of BeyGOOD’s Black Business Fund, administered by the National Urban League, to bolster Black-owned businesses.

During the BET Awards, a preview of Beyoncé's upcoming visual album, Black Is King — set to be released on Disney Plus on July 31 — was shown. Written, directed and executive produced by Beyoncé, the project is based on The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack that she curated for the remake of the animated classic, in which she also voiced the character of Nala.

Black Is King will also star other featured artists in The Lion King: The Gift, including Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, 070 Shake, Tierra Whack, JAY-Z, Blue Ivy Carter, Jessie Reyez, Wizkid, Shatta Wale, Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage, Tekno, Yemi Alade, Busiswa and Salatiel.

Beyoncé. Parkwood Entertainment

Earlier this month, Beyoncé opened up about the Black Lives Matter movement, penning an inspiring message that, while "the world came together for George Floyd," there is still much work to be done.

"We know there is a long road ahead," Beyoncé wrote above an aerial photo of enormous crowds of protestors marching in the streets of Minneapolis, where Floyd's fatal encounter with police on May 25 was caught on-camera.

The singer asked her fans to "remain aligned and focused in our call for real justice" as the world moves forward in the fight for change.

Beyoncé repeated this call to action in Sunday’s speech by encouraging them to vote.

The BET Awards are airing Sunday from 8-11 p.m. on CBS and BET.

Updated by
Brianne Tracy
Brianne Tracy

Brianne Tracy is a staff writer on the PEOPLE music team. She has been with the brand since starting as an intern nearly six years ago, covering all things entertainment across print and digital platforms. She earned her Bachelors in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Southern California and has been seen on Good Morning America.

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