Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards were about performances and powerful words.
Kendrick Lamar kicked off the show with a mini-medley of his songs. The fiery set included a man totally engulfed in flames. Lamar went into the evening with eight nominations, followed by Katy Perry and The Weeknd tied with five nominations each.
Perry, who also served as the night's host, started with a video sketch about space travel that featured astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Peggy Whitson. The singer joked about the state of the world.
"Even in the apocalypse we deserve the best soundtrack," she said, then introduced Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson, to present the award for best pop video.
Rev. Robert Wright Lee IV, a 24-year-old pastor and a descendent Confederate general Robert E. Lee, appeared to speak out against racial injustice.
"We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism and hate," Lee said. "As a pastor it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America's original sin."
He called on "all of us with privilege and power to answer God's call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on."
Lee then introduced Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville while marching as a counter-protestor against a white supremacist rally seeking to stop the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee.
Bro spoke of missing her daughter and announced the launch of a foundation named in honor of Heyer.
"I want people to know Heather never marched alone," Bro said. "She was always joined by people from every race and every background in this country."
In that spirit, Bro said, MTV decided to honor all six of the videos nominated for the new category of best fight against the system.
Below is the full list of the winners:
- Video of the Year: Kendrick Lamar - Humble
- Artist of the Year: Ed Sheeran
- Best collaboration: Zayn and Taylor Swift - I Don’t Wanna Live Forever
- Best New Artist: Khalid
- Best Hip Hop: Kendrick Lamar - Humble
- Best Dance: Zedd and Alessia Cara - Stay
- Best Pop: Fifth Harmony feat. Gucci Mayne - Down
- Best Fight Against the System: The Hamilton Mixtape - Immigrants (We Get the Job Done); Alessia Cara - Scars to Your Beautiful; John Legend - Surefire, Logic ft. Damian Lemar Hudson - Black Spiderman; Big Sean – Light; Taboo ft. Shailene Woodley - Stand up/ Stand N Rock #NoDapl.
- Best Direction: Dave Meyers and The Little Homies (for Kendrick Lamar - Humble)
- Best Cinematography: Kendrick Lamar - Humble
- Best Art Direction: Kendrick Lamar - Humble
- Best Choreography: Kanye West - Fade
- Song of the summer: Lil Uzi Vert - XO Tour L1if3
- Best Visual Effects: Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE
- Best Editing: Young Thug - Wyclef Jean
- Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award – Pink
- Best rock: Heavydirtysoul - Twenty One Pilots