Sunday evening, Janet Jackson became the first black woman to receive the Billboard Music Awards’ Icon Award—a moment that was also met with Jackson’s first televised performance in almost a decade since her 2009 performance at the American Music Awards.
Preceded by a glowing introduction from Bruno Mars, Jackson took to the stage to deliver on a medley of her timeless hits, running through cuts like “Nasty,” “Throb,” and “Let’s Dance.”
In a night inundated in tributes to victims of gun violence, Janet took the time to also bring the spotlight on victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment and abuse in an emotional acceptance speech directly in line with recent pushback against practices in Hollywood traditionally kept under wraps prior to the #MeToo movement.
“I’m deeply humbled and grateful for this award,” the veteran superstar began following the lively performance. “I believe that for all of our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history—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 and mind,” she added. “This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh. My prayer is that weary of such noise we turn back to the source of all calmness. That source, that source is God …] So again, I want to thank all of you for this honor. And I thank God for giving me the precious energy that lets me live my life as an artist, who every single day seeks to expand my capacity to love.”