Cicely Tyson, Jamie Foxx and historian Lonnie Bunch were among the recipients at the 4th annual BET Honors who paid tribute to those who came before them and helped to pave their way.
“The only reason I am standing here at this moment in time is because of the many civil rights organizations … who have allowed me to stand on their backs,” Cicely told the audience.
Proceeds from the star-studded event were donated to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, which will be the first on the National Mall to honor an African American. “Giving begins at home,” said BET CEO Debra Lee.
Supermodel Iman, Grammy Award-winner Herbie Hancock and Ebony/JET Chairman Linda Johnson Rice also received awards for their contributions in business, music and media.
Naturally 7, Tank, Trey Songz, Yolanda Adams, Ne-Yo and Keyshia Cole all took the stage, but Marsha Ambrosius’ performance was among the most memorable: She paid tribute to Teena Marie with a spot-on rendition of “Portuguese Love” that put the audience on its feet.
Gabrielle Union also left an impression during her third consecutive stint as host. The actress entertained the audience with her 10 wardrobe changes, which she jokingly called attention to during the show.
Presenters included Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe, Anika Noni Rose, Jimmy Jam, Noah Gray-Cabey, Hill Harper, Cedric the Entertainer and Tyler Perry.
The show airs during Black History Month on Monday, February 21 on BET.
–Tracy L. Scott