The singer personally invited the mothers of four unarmed black men whose deaths have sparked protests to the music awards show
While she walked the red carpet with her daughter Blue Ivy and took home eight Moon men by the time the show was over, but Beyoncé Knowles has made more headlines by inviting the mothers of four unarmed African American killed in the US whose deaths have sparked the #BlackLivesMatter movement as guests to the MTV Video Music Awards.
The four deceased men (Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and Eric Garner) were all killed by armed people, including members of the police force, which has prompted activists to use their deaths as examples of institutional racism across the United States.
Before the VMAs kicked off in New Cork’s Madison Square Garden, Beyoncé stood for photographs with Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden-Head, Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, and Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr.
All four women have previously worked with Beyoncé, featuring in the singer’s visual album Lemonade, in which they brandished photos of their dead songs. After Lemonade was released in April, McSpadden-Head revealed that the major direction Beyoncé had told the four mothers was to look “regal” in the music video.
“I tried to hold it together, but anytime I’m talking about my son, looking at a picture, I just think about all that’s gone and how he had so much ahead of him,” McSpadden-Head told Rolling Stone in May. “So I appreciate [Beyoncé] being bold enough to confront things and be sensitive at the same time.”
Civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who has worked on the cases of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, said that Beyoncé asked the four women to feature in her video, which explores the lives of African-Americans in the US today, because she found them personally inspiring.
“Our clients were honoured that out of the hundreds of mother who unfortunately have to join a growing group of women who lose children to senseless gun violence that Beyoncé selected their sons to honour,” Crump said. “They were very pleased that she would use her platform to promote and raise awareness of the need for change.”
As well as the four women, a number of other black women who also collaborated with Beyoncé on Lemonade also walked the special MTV VMAs’ white carpet, including Oscar-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis and model Winnie Harlow.