Janet Jackson made history Sunday night when she took home the Icon award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.
The legendary singer became the first Black woman to ever be presented with the career-encompassing honor and she used her groundbreaking moment to call attention to the #MeToo movement.
Bruno Mars introduced the 52-year-old singer before she came on-stage to accept her award, calling her an “undeniable artistic genius.” The show then rolled a highlight reel of Jackson’s most notable accomplishments. Clips of her appearance on The Carol Burnett show as a young girl, along with glimpses of her storied musical career followed before the singer took to the stage to perform some of her biggest hits including, “Nasty,” “If,” and “Throb.”
The crowd was on its feet for Jackson during her entire medley and Twitter naturally lost its mind over the fact that the artist could still kill it on stage after all these years, but the most memorable part of Jackson’s appearance at this year’s awards show was her acceptance speech, which she used to address gender equality.
After performing for the crowd, Jackson spoke up about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
“I believe that for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history,” she 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 by discrimination who support us in heart or mind.”
Jackson, who’s celebrating the 25th anniversary of her album Janet this year, has had her own experiences with gender discrimination. During the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Jackson performed with Justin Timberlake where her nipple was exposed on live TV. The incident received immediate backlash, prompting plenty of live programs to begin airing on a delay and Jackson took the brunt of the criticism. When Timberlake performed at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, Jackson fans were understandably upset that the white, male artist seemed to have escaped any long-lasting effects from the controversy while Jackson took the blame.
Perhaps the artist wasn’t referencing that unfortunate moment in her career during her speech, but it’s nice to see she’s finally getting the respect and the accolades she deserves.