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Roe v. Wade leads BET Awards' 'In Memoriam' segment

Entertainment Weekly logo Entertainment Weekly 6/27/2022 Justine Browning

Kevin Winter/Getty Images (2); Paras Griffin/Getty Images © Provided by Entertainment Weekly Kevin Winter/Getty Images (2); Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Those taking the stage at the BET Awards on Sunday night could not ignore the impact of the Supreme Court's shocking decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The night kicked off with an opening number from Lizzo, fresh off an announcement that she and Live Nation have pledged $1 million to abortion care. The show-stopping number, a glitter-filled rendition of her powerhouse anthem "About Damn Time," gave host Taraji P. Henson the prompt she needed. 

"It's about damn time we talk about the fact that guns have more rights than a woman. It's a sad day in America," said Henson, who then thanked the singer for her financial contribution. "A weapon that can take lives has more power than a woman that can give life — if she chooses to."

Singer and actress Janelle Monáe condemned the decision while presenting the award for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist.

"These artists are making art on our own terms, owning our truths and expressing ourselves freely and unapologetically in a world that tries to control and police our bodies, my body and our decisions, my body," she said. As you can see in the below clip, she also raised a middle finger while declaring, "F--- you, Supreme Court."

Jazmine Sullivan, the night's winner for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, called on men to "stand up" during what is "a hard time" for women in the U.S.

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"I want to speak directly to the men: We need y'all," Sullivan said. "We need y'all to stand up, stand up for us, stand up with us. If you've ever benefited from a woman making one of the toughest decisions of her life, which is to terminate a pregnancy, you need to be standing. This is not just a woman issue. This is everybody's issue. We need your support more than ever."

Perhaps most jarringly, the "In Memoriam" section of the evening began with Roe v. Wade and ended with a tribute to the victims of gun violence. 

Sidney Poitier, Michael K. Williams, Andre Leon Talley, Virgil Abloh, Traci Braxton, and Biz Markie were featured in the segment, which concluded with a gunshot and a stream of names to mark the number of those killed by gun violence.

On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending federal protections of abortion rights that were enacted in 1973. The decision puts abortion laws up to individual states; many expect about half of U.S. states will ban abortion, the Associated Press reports.

Numerous public figures expressed their contempt for the ruling, including Taylor Swift, Barack and Michelle Obama, Bette Midler, and Patricia Arquette. 

Speaking at the White House Friday, President Joe Biden called it "a sad day for the court and for the country." In a Twitter post, he added, "We need to elect more state leaders to protect this right at the local level. We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land."

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