Susan Bro was greeted with a standing ovation when she walked onstage at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday (August 27) to present the award for Best Fight Against the System. Fifteen days ago, Bro's daughter Heather Heyer was tragically killed by a driver who crashed his car through a group of counter-protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Since then, Bro said, she has committed herself to making her daughter's death count, so on the VMA stage she announced the launch of the Heather Heyer Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will provide scholarships to "help more people to join Heather's fight against hated."
"I want people to know that Heather never marched alone," she said. "She was always joined by people from every race and background in this country."
Bro was introduced by Rev. Robert Wright Lee IV, a descendant of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and outspoken advocate for the removal of Confederate statues across the U.S. "We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy and hate," he said on the VMA stage. "I call on all of us with privilege and power to confront racism and white supremacy head on."
Bro presented the Moon Person for Best Fight Against the System, an award for music videos with timely social messages.
Nominees included John Legend's tale of young star-crossed lovers ("Surefire"), The Hamilton Mixtape's timely immigrant anthem ("Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)"), Alessia Cara's body-positivity bop ("Scars To Your Beautiful"), Black-Eyed Peas' Taboo and actress Shailene Woodley's song for native Standing Rock activists ("Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL"), Big Sean's condemnation of senseless violence ("Light"), and Logic's lyrical take on historically white cultural figures ("Black SpiderMan").
And for the first time in VMA history, all six nominated videos won the Moon Person for Best Fight Against the System. "Through their diversity, these six video prove that there are many ways to take action," Bro said.
"This category is as important as Video of the Year," "Light" director Lawrence Lamont previously told MTV News. "Who knew 2017 would be what it is? It's important for artists and storytellers to use our platform to tell stories that have things to do with what's happening in today's world, whether it's racism or homophobia or Islamophobia. It's a way for artists to protest."