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Keke Palmer dedicates VMAs to Chadwick Boseman and calls for end of systemic racism

The award show host kicked off the ceremony with a powerful speech.

Keke Palmer MTV

Keke Palmer used her platform as host of the 2020 VMAs to call attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake. The singer and actress kicked off the award ceremony at 8 p.m. EST Sunday night (Aug. 30).

“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. 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,” she continued.

“Enough is enough. What we just witnessed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is yet another devastating reminder that we can’t stop, that we can never tolerate police brutality or any injustice. We must continue the fight to end systemic racism,” she said, adding, “It’s our time to be the change we want to see.”

The Hustlers actress also paid tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who tragically lost his battle with cancer on Friday (Aug. 28) and passed away at the age of 43.

“Before we get to the music tonight, we need take the time to talk about the devastating loss of Chadwick Boseman — an actor whose talent and passion was a true inspiration to all the fans he touched and everyone he encountered,” Palmer said. “We dedicated tonight’s show to a man whose spirit touched so many. He’s a true hero, not just onscreen, but in everything he did. His impact lives forever.”

In a tweet, VMAs confirmed the award show would be dedicated to Boseman. See Palmer’s opening speech below.

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