Beyoncé refuses to shy away from taking a moment to address police brutality — the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards included.
Alongside her daughter Blue Ivy Carter, model Winnie Harlow, and musical protégés Chloe & Halle and Ingrid, Beyoncé’s white carpet entourage also included mothers of victims of police brutality and vigilante violence: Gwen Carr, Lesley McSpadden, Sybrina Fulton, and Wanda Johnson whose sons Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Oscar Grant catalyzed the contemporary movement for black lives.
Beyoncé has been especially outspoken against police brutality since the surprise release of her music video for "Formation" in February.
Politicians and political pundits have accused her of being "anti-police" for her portrayal. Boycotts have even been held against her. And while she’s stated her "admiration" for law enforcement, she stands firm that a police badge doesn’t absolve anyone of accountability.
But the mothers of the movement always played a crucial role in Beyoncé’s increasingly political advocacy.
In the "Forward" section of her visual album Lemonade, McSpadden, Fulton, and Carr are shown holding photos of their sons. Not only does Beyoncé immortalize their faces in her album, but in a kind of seance, officiated by a Mardi Gras Indian, a newborn baby appears alone on a bed to signal the literal and figurative transition to "Freedom."
Beyoncé is fighting for a world in which black people decide their fate. But it is an intergenerational struggle, as much tying black mothers to their children as it is tying the children whose lives were taken by police violence to the children who are alive today.
And while Beyoncé continues to make powerful statements in the fight for racial justice, she does so carrying mothers like McSpadden, Fulton, and Carr along with her.