How Beyoncé Opens the 2016 BET Awards With a Powerful Statement About ‘Freedom’

Who could have possibly slayed the opening of the 2016 BET Awards more thoroughly than Queen Bey?

Beyoncé wasn’t officially announced to perform at Sunday’s award show. But as her backup dancers marched into the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech echoed over a driving beat, the audience knew it was on.

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“This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,’” he said. “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.”

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Then, pow. There was Beyoncé onstage to perform “Freedom” from her hit albumLemonade.