BET Awards 2016: A Night of Icons And Activism

BET Awards 2016: A Night of Icons And Activism

Watch Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar Perform Freedom, and more from Last Night's Awards

Watch Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar Perform Freedom, and more from Last Night's Awards

Text: Jillian Selzer

From surprise performances to eye-opening monologues, last night's BET Awards were filled with culture, entertainment and emotion. V recapped the night's best performances and a few shocking moments no one saw coming:

Beyoncé's "Freedom" Performance

Beyoncé opened the night on a strong note with a surprise performance of "Freedom" off of Lemonade with special guest Kendrick Lamar. With her intense presence, amazing choreography and unmatched chemistry with Lamar, it's safe to say this is one of the artist's best performances to date.

Hosts Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson

Returning to the stage for the second time, The Black-ish stars brought some lightheartedness with a twist of pop culture by performing some of music's biggest tracks in the style of Broadway's Hamilton.

Usher And Young Thug's Turnt Performance of "No Limit"

Usher proved he still has it when he joined forces with Young Thug to deliver their hit track "No Limit" with fresh choreography, artistic camera work and high energy all around.

The Prince Tributes

 Several artists took the stage throughout the night to pay tribute to the late Prince, performing hits like "Purple Rain" and "Nothing Compares 2 U." Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Tori Kelly, Maxwell, and Janelle Monae were just some of the artists to pay homage to the music figurehead.

Fat Joe, Remy Ma and French Montana's Performance of "All the Way Up"  

Featuring dancing Geishas and a stage literally #lit with open flames, the performance by the trio was an audience favorite for the night with a clear good-time vibe.

Jesse Williams' Acceptance Speech

Jesse Williams spoke some truth during his acceptance speech of the Humanitarian Award and said what everybody was thinking. He called out racism and police brutality while advocating for activism and cultural pride with incredible grace and articulation. His speech was five minutes of absolute fire, but he had the audience on their feet in overwhelming support long before he finished speaking.

Justin Timberlake's Twitter Slip-Up

Following Williams' speech, Justin Timberlake found himself in some hot water over a tweet taken out of context. After initially posting a reaction tweet to the speech saying, "@iJesseWilliams tho...#Inspired #BET2016", the Twitterverse clapped back over Timberlake's alleged racial insensitivity.

Laila Ali's Moving Tribute to Late Famed Boxer Muhammad Ali

Introduced by actor and rapper Jamie Foxx and his daughter Annalise, Laila Ali delivered a moving speech to honor her father and his conviction, generosity and wisdom.

Click here for a complete list of winners at last night's ceremony.

Credits: Photos and Videos Courtesy of Matt Sayles/Invision/AP via ABC News

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