Although the American Music Awards is usually a light-hearted show, whenever you have that many musical artists in the same place, you never know what you are going to get. When Macklemore & Ryan Lewis accepted their award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album via satellite feed from Miami on Sunday night, the mood grew unusually serious, as the duo took on the hot topics of racial profiling and specifically Trayvon Martin.
“Thank you to the AMAs. It has been an absolutely incredible year,” Macklemore (real name: Ben Haggerty) began. “I feel extremely blessed to be accepting an award at the AMAs. And now that I’m sitting here in front of millions of people, I’d like to address something extremely important to me.
“I was talking to my friend before the show, and he reminded me of a great Martin Luther King quote: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ And due to the fact that we are in Florida tonight accepting this award, I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids that are dying each year due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it.
“This is really happening — our friends, our neighbors, our peers, our fans — and it’s time that we look out for the youth and fight against racism and the laws that protect it,” Macklemore concluded, as the audience watching inside Los Angeles’s Nokia Theater applauded appreciatively.
It was a powerful message from a group that has a history of delivering powerful messages. Earlier this year, the duo performed their hit song, “Same Love”, at the MTV Video Music Awards along with lesbian singer Mary Lambert. When that song won a moonman for Best Video With a Social Message, Macklemore declared in his acceptance speech, “Gay rights are human rights. There is no separation.” Short, simple, sincere and most importantly powerful.