Janet Jackson Gave a Powerful Speech as the First Black Woman to Win the Billboard Icon Award
“Women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated, or abused.”
Janet Jackson, the queen of the “Rhythm Nation,” made history Sunday night by becoming the first black woman to receive Billboard Music’s Icon Award.
First given to Neil Diamond in 2011, the Icon Award is Billboard’s highest honor and recognizes artists’ contributions to the industry. But in her acceptance speech, Jackson took a moment to recognize the contributions of the many women who have said #MeToo and spoken out against sexual harassment and abuse.
"I believe for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history,” Jackson said. “It's a moment when, at long last, women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated, or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged who support us in heart and mind. This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh."
Jackson has previously used her platform and her music to address gender and racial discrimination. “Because of my gender, I’ve heard no too many times/Because of my race, I’ve heard no too many times,” she sings in her 1993 hit “New Agenda.” “But with every no I grow in strength/That’s why as an African-American woman, I stand tall with pride.”
Jackson plans to continue using her music and her voice to bring attention to issues that matter.
“I’m anxious. I’m angry [about today’s state of the nation],” she told Billboard magazine in a May 17 interview. “I’m certainly concerned, but when I hear new artists finding their voices, just as I found mine, I’m optimistic ... We’re determined not to fall back to those days of emotional and even physical enslavement. It’s a blessing to be alive today and join in the fight for equality among all human beings.”
Before receiving the award on Sunday, Jackson graced the stage for the first time in nine years, and the first time since becoming a mother, performing several of her biggest hits.
As a Billboard Icon Award winner, the “Nasty” singer joins the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Prince, and Global Citizen Stevie Wonder — and people couldn’t be happier about it.
Janet Jackson is 1st Black woman to receive #BillboardMusicAwards Icon Award.— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) May 21, 2018
100M records sold, record for most consecutive top-10s on Billboard by a female artist with 18.
L O N G O V E R D U E!!!!!!! #BBMAspic.twitter.com/sknea67di6
Janet Jackson = BLACK EXCELLENCE— ᴬᴸ (@JHOPEDAYDREAMS) May 21, 2018
That’s it, that’s the tweet. #BBMAs
Much LOVE to Janet Jackson for becoming the first Black woman to receive a #BBMAs Icon Award (Although there should have been many before her).— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) May 21, 2018
I've been a FAN since the Pleasure Principle Days pic.twitter.com/QOZ9eKZZhp
Congratulations to the queen Janet Jackson, the first black woman in history to receive the #BBMAs Icon Award. No words can describe how happy and proud I am tonight. Absolutely well deserved. History made. @JanetJacksonpic.twitter.com/rBMTJkKuXU— Walcott (@JrMoe_) May 21, 2018
Your reminder that THE @JanetJackson not only paved the way for performers, but for producers as well. Not only was she the SOLE songwriter and produced her No. 1 hit Black Cat, she was also the FIRST woman Grammy nominated as Producer Of The Year. #BBMAs#ICON_JANETpic.twitter.com/Oa6y3o6uuE— State Of The Wayne (@wayneashleymusi) May 21, 2018
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