Sunday night’s MTV Music Video Awards wasn’t just a night filled with a bunch of people you probably never heard of winning awards and Katy Perry attempting to be funny. The show used its platform to address racism and enlisted the help of Robert Lee IV, a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was used as a reason for white supremacists to riot in Charlottesville, Va.
Lee spoke out against racism and everything his ancestor stood for.
“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism and hate,” said Lee. “As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin. Today I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call, to confront racism and white supremacy head-on.”
Lee also went on to show support to the Black Lives Matter movement and the Women’s March before introducing Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, to the audience. Heyer was killed in Charlottesville when an enraged white supremacist charged through a crowd with his car.
“Only 15 days ago, my daughter was killed as she protested racism,” she said with strength. “I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight.
“I want people to know Heather never marched alone,” Bro added. “She was always joined by people from every race and every background in this country.”
Bro went on to announce the Heather Heyer Foundation, a nonprofit that will provide scholarships to “help more people join Heather’s fight against hatred,” as her mother said.
After Bro’s and Lee’s speeches, MTV’s new Best Fight Against the System award winners were revealed: Logic, featuring Damian Lemar Hudson, for “Black SpiderMan” (in the race-and-LGBTQ category); The Hamilton Mixtape for “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” (the immigration category); Big Sean for “Light” (the race category); Alessia Cara for “Scars to Your Beautiful” (for body image); Taboo, featuring Shailene Woodley, for “Stand Up/Stand N Rock #NoDAPL” (environment); and John Legend for “Surefire” (immigration and anti-Muslim-hate category).