Ferguson Makes A Reappearance At The Grammys

While the protests around Ferguson and the Eric Garner case have largely faded from the political discussion and our television sets, the movement was very much on display at last night's Grammy Awards.

Against the backdrop of an ongoing conversation about whether black artists get their proper due, the world's biggest black artists defiantly had a familiar message: black lives matter.

Among them were Pharrell, who previously sparked backlash in an interview with Ebony Magazine when he asked why there wasn't more focus on Michael Brown's "bullyish" behavior prior to him being shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson:

Pharrell, Common and Beyoncé show support for #BlackLivesMatterat #GRAMMYs http://t.co/jFS7xH8nt4 pic.twitter.com/QxEBaORzPO

— XXL Magazine (@XXL) February 9, 2015


Prince was much more explicit, giving voice to the Twitter hashtag that has become a tagline of the Ferguson movement:

Ebony noticed:

Music has allowed us to bring the issues of the world, of our world, to the biggest stage. You will hear it, like it or not. #GRAMMYs

— EBONY (@EBONYMag) February 9, 2015

And Beyonce wrapped the gesture into her rendition of "Take My Hand Precious Lord," the song that Mahalia Jackson sung at Martin Luther King's funeral (it was his last request as he lay dying):

Beyonce #HandsUpDontShoot #BlackLivesMatter #Grammys#BeyHive pic.twitter.com/knSlDRTx3A

— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) February 9, 2015

But it wasn't universal. During an awards ceremony that paid tribute to artists like Sam Smith and Iggy Azalea who have been influenced by black musicians, white artists weren't as eager to join in the musical protest.

Country star Eric Church was the exception. Images of the Ferguson protesters played on the screen behind him as he performed, along with other snapshots of social unrest through the years.

Excited after #Ferguson statements by Black Artists. Today mad cuz no white artist told us #BlackLivesMatter Cmon #Beck #SamSmith#Grammys

— Chuck_MODI (@POPSspotSports) February 9, 2015

The Michael Brown shooting happened six months ago. And black musicians, who have long chronicled social ills, have been out front in the protests against inequities in the criminal justice system.

By bringing #blacklivesmatter to the Grammys, it keeps the spotlight on an issue that has lost plenty of national political momentum.