Culture's biggest annual celebration wrapped up another successful year of honoring Blackness this past Sunday, in an evening filled with joy, great music and pure Black excellence. After a year in the pandemic and season of virtual awards shows, the BET Awards returned to Los Angeles, CA for a socially-distanced in-person show that we were all happy to see again. And after a social reckoning that called out a lot of issues in America, the awards only saw it fit to center this year's theme around 'The Year of the Black Woman.'
Black women showed up and showed out this year, whether they graced the stage with amazing performances or shared space with each other to honor their accomplishments. H.E.R. said it best in recognizing this year's awards when she said “BET is everything. This is a stage for us, for Black women to be recognized, and I just think it’s really important to have that. We’ve had a crazy year and I think we’re all starting to see the importance of supporting Black people. It’s the year of the Black woman, it’s the year of really giving people their flowers. I’m proud and I hope we keep that same energy.”
From paying homage to some of our musical icons – both past and present – to giving us flowers to encouraging one another to keep taking up space, the BET Awards celebrated Black women this year like no other. Check out some of our favorite moments where Black women were the talk of the night.
Taraji P. Henson kicking off the show as the host.
The beloved Hollywood actress kicked off culture's biggest night of the year making sure Black women were front and center. In her opening monologue, she made it clear that celebrating Black women isn’t a "fad or a trend" but a "forever mood" and we couldn't agree more. She even made it a point to give a few women in the audience their flowers while they can still smell them – including Issa Rae, Maxine Waters and Zendaya.
Cardi B’s jaw-dropping baby announcement.
Did Cardi B just pull a Beyoncé to announce her baby #2 pregnancy? She sure did, and she did it once again while performing alongside the Migos and her husband, Offset. If fans remember, she pulled a similar move while performing “Be Careful” on Saturday Night Live back in 2018 when she was pregnant with Kulture.
H.E.R.'s floating drum performance had her flying high.
In true H.E.R. fashion, the Grammy-winning R&B songstress made a moment out of her single, “We Made It," off her newly-released debut album by kicking off her live performance ascending from the rafters playing a floating drum. To top off her evening, she delivered a touching message about the power of Black music while accepting her award for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist.
Megan Thee Stallion cleaned up with awards and led a stage-shaking performance.
In yet another exciting night in music, Megan Thee Stallion won big for women in Hip-Hop after taking home three of the biggest awards of the night – Best Female Hip Hop Artist, Viewer's Choice Award and Video Of The Year. Not only was she a successful winner at the awards, she also delivered a show-stopping performance of her new TikTok-crazed hit, "Thot Sh*t."
Jazmine Sullivan and Ari Lennox proved that R&B is not dead.
In one of the best performances of the evening, Jazmine Sullivan and Ari Lennox finally united live onstage to perform their lusty fan-favorite song, "On It," off of the Philly native's Heaux Tales EP. Their chemistry was hypnotizing for fans to watch and their harmonies joined together for an empowering song that left all the women in the room speechless.
Jazmine reclaimed her time alongside Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
What's better than sampling a famous Congresswoman on your latest single? Well for Jazmine, she might say performing said single alongside women empowerment figure Maxine Waters, who told us all how to "reclaim our time" once again. Waters set the stage for Sullivan to perform, and she came through and lifted all our spirits with her song, "Tragic." The Philly singer had an amazing night on top of her performances as she was able to accept her award for "Album Of The Year" with her mother who beat a tough battle with breast cancer.
A history lesson on twerking ushered in the City Girls' energetic twerk anthem.
Taraji did well keeping the BET Awards night flowing smoothly, and she gave us a special history map lesson and tribute to our ancestors when she walked us through our own twerking roots – from mother Africa to the Harlem Renaissance. Her twerk crash course made for the perfect segue into the City Girls' highly-anticipated "Twerkulator" performance that was filled with all kinds of popping and shaking.
Andra Day channeled Billie Holiday for a modern-day "Strange Fruit" performance.
The Golden Globe winner and Oscar-nominated actress reminded us all why she was chosen to lead Billie Holiday's biopic this year with a soulful, intimate performance of the icon's "Strange Fruit" plus a medley of songs from The United States vs. Billie Holiday. She even took home a BET Award for Best Actress in her award-winning film.
Taraji's quick changes paid homage to H.E.R., Tina Turner, Erykah Badu and more.
Taraji's evening of quick changes was reminiscent of Mo'Nique's old hosting days, but this time the Empire actress took the time to honor some of music's most iconic living legends, both seasoned and budding – including Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Erykah Badu, Ester Jones, Betty Boop and H.E.R.
The iconic women of Hip-Hop honored Queen Latifah's rich legacy in the best way possible.
This year's 2021 BET Awards honored Queen Latifah as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. And it wouldn't be right if one of her sisters in Hip-Hop didn't deliver the tribute and present her with the award. Icons like Lil' Kim, Monie Love, Rapsody and MC Lyte all graced the stage, while other close friends like Jada Pinkett Smith, Mary J. Blige and more gave the multi-hyphenate artist her flowers in a video segment.