Beyoncé closed the night at the Grammy Awards with a performance that deserves everyone's attention.
She could have performed any of the hit songs from her critically-acclaimed, self-titled album, which ultimately was snubbed for album of the year on Sunday. But instead, the world's biggest pop star used her platform to send America a profound wake-up call on behalf of racial justice.
As she and her choir stood in white attire, Beyoncé sang "Take My Hand, Precious Lord." And while belting the heartfelt cry for help from on high, everyone on the stage extended their hands. It was a subtle yet pointed call for unity — and an invitation for America to join in solidarity with a movement to fight racism.
The selection couldn't be more poignant. Beyoncé's gospel rendition was a strong prelude to the following act, as John Legend and Common took the stage soon after to perform "Glory" from the Selma soundtrack.
In the movie, Martin Luther King Jr. makes a late-night telephone call to legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson during a particularly rough patch in the lead-up to planning the fateful demonstrations. Although she's in bed, Jackson takes the call, during which King asks to hear "a word from the Lord." Jackson obliges, singing "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," a spiritual penned by gospel songwriter Thomas Dorsey in the 1950s. It's a call for strength during times of turmoil.
But the extended hands weren't the only symbolic move during Beyoncé's performance. Her choir also paused in one moment to put their hands up, a motion that became immediately significant in protest following the death of Michael Brown in August 2014.
Regardless of anyone's faith or beliefs, it's easy to see why the message remains relevant during the current struggle against racism, especially in light of the killings of unarmed black people by police officers and vigilantes. As performed on Sunday evening, it was both a call for heavenly inspiration and a call for people everywhere to engage in the conversation about racial justice.
That's what made Beyoncé's stirring selection all the more resonant — and it's why America should take note.