Grammys 2015: Race Takes Center Stage at Show
Pharrell Williams, Beyonce, Prince and Stevie Wonder were among those making big statements Sunday night.
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-African-American 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 paid homage to 18-year-old, unarmed Michael Brown, who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. The "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture originates from Brown's shooting and was seen during protests that proceeded the Ferguson grand jury's decision to not indict Wilson.
Williams' backup dancers wore black hoodies, such as 17-year-old Trayvon Martin did when he was killed in 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 Beyonce'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.
The serious tone also was present earlier in the night, as Eric Church's performance featured a backdrop of images of police brutality, war and protests before concluding on an American flag covered in words such as "truth," "solidarity" and "home."
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."
And presenting with Jamie Foxx, the legendary Wonder added his own call to action: "We must come together and fix all that's wrong."