'Hip Hop Honors' tips hat to women trailblazers, tackles racial issues

Host Eve with honorees Missy Elliott, members of Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, and Lil' Kim on Monday.

Story highlights

  • VH1 honors some of hip-hop's most influential female artists
  • Rapper-actor Common pays tribute to Diamond Reynolds, activists

(CNN)Monday night's "Hip Hop Honors" was a chance to honor both the first ladies of hip-hop and bring attention to racial unrest in this country.

Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Lil' Kim and the group Salt-N-Pepa were the honorees for "VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens." Many of those attending used the ceremony as an opportunity to address issues of racism.
    "I don't care how much or things I have, or Puff has," Queen Latifah said. "If I go outside and try to hail a cab and he passes me for the white woman standing right there, that racism is still alive and kicking. And we have to change that."
    In honoring Latifah, rapper-actor Common paused to pay tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement
    "I also want to take this moment to honor all the sisters who have been on the front lines in our ongoing movement for justice," Common said. "I'm talking about Fannie Lou Hamer, Diane Nash, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Shirley Chisholm. I'm talking about the Black Lives Matter founders."
    He also mentioned Diamond Reynolds, who last week filmed the aftermath of the shooting of her fiancé, Philando Castile, a black Minnesota man, by a police officer.
    "And I'm also talking about everyday women," Common said. "Women like Diamond Reynolds, who filmed the police killing (of Castile), who tried to calmly de-escalate the deadly situation and hours later, was at her governor's mansion, demanding justice."
    During her acceptance speech, rapper Lil' Kim said, "I just want to say that brutality has gotten to an all-time high."
    "It is horrible," she said. "We as a people can stick together and do something about that. Speak our voice and our opinion and really just support the community."