“Let us continue to honor all that is beautiful about being feminine,” Keys said. “We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. We are activists. We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Our potential is unlimited. We rise!”
Keys continued, “We will not allow our bodies to be owned and controlled by men in government, or men anywhere for that matter. We will not allow our compassionate souls to get stepped on. We want the best for all Americans. No hate, no bigotry, no Muslim registry. We value education, health care and equality.”
Keys then led the crowd in a chant before performing a brief version of her single “Girl on Fire” with the lyrics changed to reflect the masses gathered, “These girls are on fire.”
Monae similarly a delivered a fiery speech before performing her call-and-response track “Hell You Talmbout.”
Onstage, Monae was joined by the mothers of Eric Garner, Mohamed Bah and Dontre Hamilton – three victims of police-related deaths – as well as the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.
Maxwell also provided his rendition of Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work,” while Madonna delivered a powerful speech and surprise performance that featured “Express Yourself” and “Human Nature.”