Kelly Clarkson kicked off the 2018 Billboard Music Awards with an impassioned speech calling for change as the nation reels from its latest school shooting.
The ceremony host opened the show speaking directly to the camera. Tears welled in her eyes as she referenced Friday’s mass shooting, during which an armed student killed two teachers and eight of his classmates at Santa Fe High School in Clarkson’s home state of Texas.
“I’m a Texas girl and my home state has had so much heartbreak over this past year, and once again we’re grieving for more kids that have died for absolutely no reason at all,” she said, pausing briefly to hold back her tears.
“Tonight they wanted me to say…obviously we want to pray for all the victims and pray for their families, but they also wanted me to do a moment of silence,” she explained. “And I’m so sick of moments of silence. It’s not working…obviously. So, why don’t we not do a moment of silence, why don’t we do a moment of action? Why don’t we do a moment of change? Why don’t we change what’s happening, because it’s horrible. And mommies and daddies should be able to send their kids to school, to church, to movie theaters, to clubs… You should be able to live your life without that kind of fear.”
Clarkson’s words, of course, reference the 22 domestic school shootings that have occurred across the first 20 weeks of 2018, all of which have resulted in injuries or deaths.
“We need to do better…because we’re failing our children. We’re failing our communities. We’re failing their families,” Clarkson added. “I can’t imagine. I have four children — I cannot imagine getting that phone call or that knock on the door. So, instead of a moment of silence, I want to respect [the victims] and honor them… Tonight, y’all, in your community, where you live — let’s have a moment of action! Let’s have a moment of change!”
Watch Clarkson’s 2018 Billboard Music Awards opening speech above.