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The most moving moment of the VMAs had nothing to do with music

Refinery29 logo Refinery29 2017-08-28 Meagan Fredette

Refinery29 © Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images. Refinery29

MTV made a point to remember that its award show coincided with a backdrop of social unrest. We are still struggling with the events of Charlottesville, and are having a national dialogue about the reality of racism that is still very much a part of our social fabric.

The Rev. Robert Wright Lee, a descendent of Gen. Robert E. Lee, appeared on stage. He explained that his religious views compel him to speak out against hatred. Lee also implored us to see his ancestor for the symbol of racism that he is, and his hope that we can deal after the violence in Charlottesville — violence that was enacted under his acenstor's name.

Next, Lee introduced someone who knows that pain all too well. When Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother, stepped onto the stage, she began by reminding us that her daughter was killed only two weeks ago during the Charlottesville protest. In a beautifully moving speech, she remembered Heather's passion for standing up for social justice and making her voice known. She was visibly emotional as the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

Bro also announced the founding of the Heather Heyer Foundation. According to their site, the foundation is "a scholarship program to provide financial assistance to individuals passionate about positive social change

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INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 27: Katy Perry performs during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage); INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 27: Kendrick Lamar, winner of Video of the Year, Best Hip Hop, Best Cinematography, Best Direction, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects for 'Humble', poses in the press room during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images); INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 27: Pink (C) performs onstage during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) 2017 MTV Video Music Awards: winners and highlights

Read her words below in full. We are in awe of her courage, grace, and dignity.

"Only 15 days ago my daughter Heather was killed as she protested racism. I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight. I’ve been deeply moved to see people across the world, the whole world, find inspiration in her courage. Today I’m announcing the launch of The Heather Heyer Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will provide scholarships to help more people join Heather’s fight against hatred.

I want people to know that Heather never marched alone. She was always joined by people of every race and every background in this country. In that spirit, MTV has decided to honor all 6 nominees for Best Fight Against The System. Through their diversity, these six videos show there are many ways to take action and many battlegrounds in the fight for social good."

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Twitter also felt the emotional weight of Bro's words.

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