Keke Palmer Kicks Off the 2020 MTV VMAs With a Call to End Systemic Racism

Keke Palmer started the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards with a message about the healing power of music amid the Black Lives Matter movement and systemic racism.

By Samantha Schnurr Aug 31, 2020 12:33 AMTags

In the words of Keke Palmer, "Music can help us heal."

As the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards host, the actress and singer had much to juggle during the unique broadcast on Sunday, Aug. 30. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the show took on a new look and form to accommodate these socially distant times. But, that wasn't the only challenge Palmer addressed as she started the historic show. Amid the Black Lives Matter movement and ongoing fight against police brutality and systemic racism, the host put a spotlight on not only the problems the country is currently facing, but also the silver linings of this era. 

"I gotta say it, 2020 has undoubtedly been a rough year for everybody, and I'm not just talking about my edges," she began. "In fact, when something goes wrong, I just say, '2020.' But, as rough as it's been, there have been incredible moments of inspiration that have given my generation hope."

"We've seen heroes going above and beyond, whether they drive a delivery truck, work at a grocery store, or serve on the front lines in a hospital" she acknowledged. "And with the Black Lives Matter movement, we've seen our generation step up, take to the streets, and make sure our voices will be heard."

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As she pointed out, though, there is still work to do.  

Jeff Kravitz/MTV VMAs 2020/Getty Images for MTV

"Enough is enough. What we just witnessed in Kenosha, Wis. is yet another devastating reminder that we can't stop, that we can never tolerate police brutality or any injustice," she said, referencing the police shooting of Jacob Blake. "We must continue the fight to end systemic racism."

As Palmer concluded her opening, she turned the spotlight on those tuning in. "The leaders of that movement are you, us, the people watching tonight," she said. "It's our time to be the change we want to see. We need to come together, and music—music has that power. Music can help us heal. It's all love and that's what tonight is about. We are making the impossible possible, pushing the boundaries of music performances, because that's what we do on the VMAs!"