Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won an American Music Award for their hit album The Heist. Although they were not present during the award ceremony, Macklemore appeared via satellite from Miami, Florida. The famed rapper used the opportunity to mention Trayvon Martin and speak out against racial profiling.
On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Martin was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman. The shooting gained national attention as the teen was unarmed. It is believed that he was the victim of racial profiling, as Martin was simply walking down the street in a wealthy community.
Although Zimmerman was arrested in charged in the shooting, he was later found not guilty.
The Trayvon Martin case remains a point of controversy. However, it raised awareness about racial profiling and “stand your ground” laws. Stand your ground laws allow citizens to use deadly force to defend themselves, while providing immunity from criminal prosecution.
As reported by E! Online, Macklemore discussed the tragedy as he accepted his award:
“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 each year that are dying due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it.”
The rapper continued, quoting civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. He then pointed out that racial profiling is a nationwide problem that affects everyone:
“These are our friends, our neighbors, our peers and our fans, and it’s time that we look out for the youth and fight against racism and the laws that protect it.”
Ryan Lewis used the opportunity to thank friends, family, and fans. The Boom Box reports that the duo was also presented with an award for favorite rap/hip-hop artist.
Born Ben Haggerty, Macklemore was born and raised in the Capital Hill area of Seattle, Washington. He credits Michael Jackson and Digital Underground for inspiring his interest in music.
Although he struggled with an addiction to drugs, he entered a rehabilitation program in 2008. In 2010, he paired with DJ and producer Ryan Lewis. The duo released their first album in 2012.
Macklemore and Lewis’ first two singles, “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us,” reached the top of the pop charts simultaneously.
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