Host Kelly Clarkson opened the 2018 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night with an emotional speech about the recent mass shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, that killed 10 people and injured over a dozen more.
Struggling to get the words out, Clarkson began, “Before we start tonight’s show, there’s something I’d like to say — this is gonna be so hard — about the tragedy at Santa Fe High. I’m a Texas girl and my home state has had so much heartbreak over this past year. And once again, y’all, we’re grieving for more kids that have died for just no reason at all.”
The tearful singer continued, “Tonight they wanted me to say … obviously we want to pray for all the victims and pray for their families, but they also wanted me to do a moment of silence. And I’m so sick of moments of silence. It’s not working … obviously. So, why don’t we not do a moment of silence, why don’t we do a moment of action? Why don’t we do a moment of change? Why don’t we change what’s happening, because it’s horrible. And mommies and daddies should be able to send their kids to school, to church, to movie theaters, to clubs. … You should be able to live your life without that kind of fear.
“We need to do better … because we’re failing our children. We’re failing our communities,” Kelly continued. “We’re failing their families. I can’t imagine. I have four children — I cannot imagine getting that phone call or that knock on the door. So, instead of a moment of silence, I want to respect [the victims] and honor them. … Tonight, y’all, in your community, where you live — let’s have a moment of action! Let’s have a moment of change!”
While the three-time Grammy winner didn’t specifically mention guns, or gun control, her calls to action were reminiscent of recent outcries from shooting survivors in Parkland, Florida. Students there complained of politicians offering prayers, but little action after 17 students and teachers were gunned down in February.
In response, they held the March for Our Lives on March 24 to call attention to gun violence and start a national discussion about how to change gun laws.
Performers Shawn Mendes and Khalid were joined onstage by members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Show Choir during their performance at the Billboard Music Awards Sunday night.
Clarkson is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, about four hours north of Santa Fe. Clarkson’s mother was a elementary school teacher.
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