Since its establishment by the Black Entertainment Television network in 2008, the BET Honours Awards has celebrated the best and brightest entrepreneurs, educators, public servants and entertainers through musical tributes. This year’s awards ceremony was hosted by American comedian and talk show host Arsenio Hall.
In the face of the recent brutalities against people of colour in the US, the awards ceremony could not have come at any better time. After a spectacular performance by Toni Braxton, host Arsenio Hall took over the show and joked that the epitome of black excellence, President Barack Obama, was leaving the White House soon. “They worked him so hard…he’s stressed. Who knew that the change we could believe in would be his hair colour? When he was sworn into office, he was the dark knight and now that he’s leaving office, he’s fifty shades of grey,” he taunted.
The awards ceremony recognised American film and television producer and director Lee Daniels, who embarked on a trip to Hollywood to fulfil his destiny several years ago with just seven dollars as spending money. The producer of American hit musical drama series ‘Empire’ was also awarded the BET television and film award. In a speech after receiving the award Lee Daniels said: “I stand before you tonight a very grateful and humble black man. The honourees tonight are legendary and I consider them my friends.”
In what was an emotional moment he thanked legendary singer Patti Labelle for helping him get off drugs at a stage in his life. “I called her one day at 3 o’clock in the morning…I was high as a kite. She said Lee, do you know Jesus?” The producer of ‘Empire’ dedicated his award to his grandmother whom he said had taught him to tell the truth whether or not people liked it.
American record producer L.A. Reid was also honoured for his exceptional contribution to music. The singer and producer, who has been responsible for producing super stars like Usher, TLC, Pink, Toni Braxton and many more received the BET Business of Entertainment Awards.
Other individuals who were honoured at this year’s BET Honours Awards were the first African American Attorney General, Eric Holder. Reading his tribute Melissa Harris said: “On the night of his restored victory in 2008, President Obama declared change has come to America. One of the most important manifestations of this change became clear just a few months later when President Obama tapped our next honoree to lead the Department Of Justice.Just days into his tenure as Attorney General, he called on the nation to grapple with the legacy of racial inequality.” Eric Holder received the BET Public Service Award.
Legendary R&B singer Patti LaBelle, who is considered a national treasure, was awarded the Musical Arts Award. Jennifer Hudson, Tamar Braxton, Jazmine Sullivan and Kadeem Hardison all paid tribute to the singer whose musical career started in the 1960s.
Mellody Hobson received the Corporate Citizen Award. The honoree joined the largest African American money management and mutual fund company, Ariel Investments, as an intern and worked her way up to become President. She has also given back the black community through the setting up the Ariel Investments Community Academy and many other initiatives.
In all, this year’s BET Honors Awards would go down as one of the highest points of the awards ceremony.