“We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does,” said Beyoncé in her pre-recorded acceptance speech for the 2020 BET Awards. The performer and philanthropist is 2020’s recipient of the Humanitarian Award, bestowed for her work through the BeyGOOD Initiative and other campaigns.
“Thank you so much for this beautiful honor,” she said. “I want to dedicate this award to all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me, marching and fighting for change. Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain.”
BET bestowed the 2020 Humanitarian Award on the prolific performer and public figure for her work through the #BeyGOOD Initiative, which was initially created to help the homeless, sick children, and the unemployed. Programs within the #BeyGOOD initiative included donation stations at her March 2020 shows, in which concertgoers could purchase #BeyGOOD stickers and upgrade their tickets to “BeyHive” or “BeyStage” seats, offering a better view and closer interaction with the superstar–with proceeds going directly to local charities in the cities on her Mrs. Carter tour.
In partnership with UNICEF USA, Beyonce also rolled out BeyGOOD4Burundi, a program that works to bring safe water to women and children in Burundi, a landlocked country in East Africa that has become one of the poorest countries in the world. Through BeyGOOD4Burundi, the project has “helped build and rehabilitate 84 water points so far, delivering safe water to over 30,000 people.”
Since the onset of COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd, #BeyGOOD has taken more proactive stances on current issues.
In one example, the initiative has since donated $6 million in funding for local community-based organizations, the UCLA, and the National Alliance in Mental Illness, which provides mental wellness services for people in Houston, New York, New Orleans, and Detroit.
“Communities of color are suffering by epic proportions due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the #BeyGOOD team said in a statement. “Many families live in underserved areas with homes that make it harder to practice social distancing. Communities that were already lacking funds for education, health and housing are now faced with alarming infection rates and fatalities… Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD is supporting organizations that are on the ground 24/7…to address these dire needs in some of the hardest hit areas.”
Closer to home, Beyoncé kicked off the #IDIDMYPART initiative with her mother, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and fashion designer Tina Knowles Lawson. The initiative encouraged Houston residents–particularly those in predominantly Black and brown communities–to step up for COVID-19 testing.
The #IDIDMYPART Mobile Testing Relief Campaign provided 1,000 free test kits, face masks, gloves, essential vitamins, and household supplies to people in Houston. This mobile testing center ran for Mother’s Day weekend and launched a campaign to promote testing in Black and brown communities around the Houston area.
Plus, in a combined response to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, #BeyGOOD launched the Black Business Fund, administered by the National Urban League, which provides relief for Black-owned small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Also part of this program is “The Black Parade Route” (named for the superstar’s latest single, “Black Parade,” which comments on the hate and discrimination Black people have faced for generations).
The Black Parade Route, launched in honor of Juneteenth, is a merchandising effort hosted on Beyoncé’s website. It acts as a directory for Black-owned businesses. Proceeds from The Black Parade Route benefit the Black Business Impact Fund.
As of June 2020, Beyoncé’s net worth is estimated at $400 million. Her work in the philanthropic sector offers an excellent mold for other mega-celebrities to step into: the bestowal of the 2020 BET Humanitarian Award means other superstars have some serious sequined shoes to fill.
Beyoncé’s humanitarian efforts don’t stop at fundraising and fighting COVID-19. In an excellent example of a star using her platform for good, Beyoncé encourages her nation of fans to take action.
“Now we have one more thing we need to do to walk in our true power,” Beyoncé concluded in her BET acceptance speech. “And that is to vote. I’m encouraging you to continue to take action, continue to change and dismantle a racist and unequal system. We have to continue to do this together, continue to fight for each other and lift each other up because there are people banking on us staying at home during local elections and primaries happening in states across the country. We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”
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