Actress, singer, and president of my life if she chooses to accept the nomination, Keke Palmer added hosting to her myriad skills on Sunday night at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards. The award show began with Palmer honoring the late Chadwick Boseman, “an actor whose talent and passion is a true inspiration to all the fans he touched, and everyone he encountered.” “We dedicate tonight’s show to a man whose spirit touched so many,” she continued. “He’s a true hero, not just onscreen, but everything he did. His impact lives forever.” Boseman, whose role as the Black Panther revolutionized superhero films, died of colon cancer this week at 43 years old. The VMAs also replayed Boseman’s 2018 MTV Movie Awards acceptance speech, where he honored James Shaw Jr., a civilian who had disarmed a gunman in Tennessee earlier that year.
In her opening monologue, set on the VMAs “stage,” Palmer immediately enters accommodating auntie mode, introduces us to the Zoom audience stacked into the virtual “crowd,” and settles in for a word. “2020 has undoubtedly been a rough year for everybody and I’m not just talking about my edges,” she started, before touching on the pandemic and the anti-police violence movement. “We’ve seen heroes go above and beyond whether they drive a delivery truck, work at a grocery store, or serve on the front lines at a hospital,” she said. “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. Enough is enough. What we just witnessed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is 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. The leaders of that movement are you, us, the people watching tonight.”