“Only 15 days ago, my daughter, Heather, was killed as she protested racism,” Susan Bro said at the beginning of a speech about Heather Heyer at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.
“I miss her, but I know she’s here tonight.”
While demonstrating against a rally of white supremacists and neo-Nazis advocating to protect a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, a man used a car to drive into Heyer and other protestors. Heyer died after the impact.
During the VMAs at The Forum in Los Angeles, a descendant of Lee’s, Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, introduced Bro before her speech about her daughter. Rev. Lee immediately denounced his ancestor.
It is my duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin. Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV
“It is my duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin,” Lee said. He advocated for viewers to “confront racism and white supremacy head on.” After Lee’s remarks, Bro came on stage with the auspices of announcing the winner for a new category called “Best Fight Against The System.”
“I want people to know that Heather never marched alone,” Bro said. “She was always joined by people from every race and every background in this country. In that spirit, MTV has decided to honor all six nominees for Best Fight Against the System. Through their diversity these six videos show there are many ways to take action and many battlegrounds in the fight for social good.”
The original nominees were Logic featuring Damian Lemar Hudson for “Black SpiderMan,” The Hamilton Mixtape for “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” Big Sean for “Light,” Alessia Cara for “Scars To Your Beautiful,” Taboo featuring Shailene Woodley for “Stand Up / Stand N Rock #NoDAPL” and John Legend for “Surefire.”
“I have been deeply moved to see people across the world, the whole world, find inspiration in her courage,” Bro said of her daughter. “Today I’m announcing the launch of the Heather Heyer Foundation ― a non-profit organization that will provide scholarships to help more people join Heather’s fight against hatred.”
A link to the website appeared on screen as Bro added, “Please visit our website to help me make Heather’s death count.”
In the lead-up to the event, Bro told People how strange it was to be on this particular MTV stage.
“When they first asked me, I hadn’t realized how far-reaching Heather’s message had been,” Bro told People. “I was a bit skeptical. ‘What do you want a 60 year old woman on your show for?’ I didn’t realize how many people were paying attention. But now I’ve realized this is bigger than Heather, this is bigger than me. This is something that touches people everywhere, the idea that you can stand up and be counted, that you have it within you to be that hero, so I feel like I have an obligation to share that.”