Reigning hip-hop royalty took over New York’s David Geffen Hall last night for VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens. The event honored female trailblazers in rap, including Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella and Lil Kim.
Despite the celebratory atmosphere, there were somber moments as the entertainers reflected on the recent tragedies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Falcon Heights, Minnesota and Dallas last week. Activist Darnell Moore and Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza delivered the opening remarks, while Common thanked women who had been on the “front lines in our ongoing movement for justice.”
During her acceptance speech, Queen Latifah gave a humble yet empowered speech, addressing racism, activism and the need for change, telling the audience, “I’m hoping that we can somehow manage to channel all of these emotions that we have in a positive way, and really do something to change our world.”
She also stated that despite her fame, she faces frequent prejudices in everyday life as a black woman.
“I don’t care how much money or things I have, or Puff has, or Missy has. If I go outside and try to hail a cab and he passes me for the white woman standing right there, that racism is still alive and kicking. And we have to change that. And I’m not blaming the white lady; she needed a cab too. I’m just saying we need to change this attitude and we must demand respect as women.”
The rapper and Academy Award nominee — who was also praised, along with fellow honorees, later in the night by First Lady Michelle Obama — also performed on the show with a medley of hits including “Had It Up 2 Here,” “Ladies’ First” and show closer “Unity.”