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Sunday’s BET Awards, dubbed #CulturesBiggestNight, was all kinds of inspiring. It was full of Black joy and love, excellence, gay pride, HBCU pride, paying homage to our ancestors, mental health awareness and activism. All of the things indeed needed now more than ever “for the culture”.

But what really did it for me was Sean Love Combs’ (aka Diddy’s) reflection and acceptance speech calling for Black unity as this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. 

The ceremony kicked off with a tribute to the legend featuring words from New York native, artist and entrepreneur, Jay Z. Following the tribute was a musical performances with compilations from R&B greats, Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. Also in the lineup was hip-hop royalty, Busta Rhymes, The Lox and artists that made Diddy’s Bad Boy record label the dynasty that it is, Shyne (who’s now a politician in his home country Belize), Lil Kim, Faith Evans and Diddy himself.

Inducted by industry greats, Kenneth Babyface Edmonds and Chicago’s own, Ye, Diddy came back to the stage after his performance elated, jumping up and down and shouting, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” into the microphone. 

BET Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Diddy calls for Black unity

In the almost 10 minute long address, the entertainment mogul said:

When I was a kid, I saw these images that was setting me up for failure–these images that was making me feel like less than a dog. And I just was like, “Man, I ain’t with that”. And then I just closed my eyes and dreamed and opened my eyes and saw what I had to do.

Life is important. We’re not here just for ourselves. We’re here for our ancestors. And so God put this message on my heart to give to you, and you, and you, and you–the time is now. Not two seconds from now, right now. I got this new dream. I got this dream of Black people being free. I got this dream of us controlling our own destiny. I got this dream of us taking accountability and stop killing each other. I got this dream of us being rich and wealthy and living on the same block. I have this dream of us unifying–not just talk on this stage but us, we know our community. And our allies–if you with us, don’t be silent. Put some money in the game, put some fight in the game cuz we at war, you feel me?

But, I got that dream for us to be free. The last shall be first and the first shall be last–we gotta unify.”

With all of the images and music working to negatively influence and brainwash our community, we need more messages and actions from Hollywood promoting Black economic power, love, resistance, education and pouring into one another. And Diddy’s done and is doing those things.

In 2016, he opened Capital Prepatory School in Harlem, which has recently located to a larger space. The school also has a campus in the Bronx.

Over the years, he’s supported charities like the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the scholarship Fund, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and more.

Diddy donates to Howard University

At the conclusion of the speech, Diddy announced that he was donating one million dollars to his alma mater, Howard University, and to Deion Sanders at Jackson State University in a larger push to support and attract Black athletes to HBCU sports programs.

As I always say when there’s an outpouring of Black love and calls for unity, more of this. Especially from the entertainment industry and specifically from people like Diddy. Our young people (and a lot of older ones, too) need to see themselves in position of power through the success of people that started from the bottom and look like them. They need to see how activism goes beyond just marching on the frontlines and more importantly, the freedom in economic power and how that looks reinvested into our communities. 

Sean Love Combs is a representation of all of this plus more. He’s absolutely deserving of a lifetime achievement award.

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