Beyoncé won eight awards, including video of the year, and performed five songs from her visual album Lemonade in an epic 16-minute concert that had the audience at Madison Square Garden in awe.
She sang live, danced the way only Beyoncé can, and worked the crowd as she ran through Pray You Catch Me, Hold Up, Sorry, Don’t Hurt Yourself and Formation, which won the top prize over musical juggernauts Adele, Drake, Justin Bieber and Kanye West.
“First of all, I’d like to thank my beautiful daughter and my incredible husband for all of their support,” said Beyoncé, who walked the carpet with daughter Blue Ivy and the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner — who all appeared in the Lemonade movie — and are known collectively as “Mothers of the Movement.”
Each of the mothers lost their sons to gunfire, and Beyoncé was showing solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement.
For the red-carpet photo, Beyoncé and the mothers were joined by actress Quvenzhané Wallis and Canadian fashion model Winnie Harlow.
At the end of her jaw-dropping performance, Beyoncé and her dancers formed the Venus symbol onstage, a direct display of female power. She – quite literally – dropped the mic at the end of her last song.
While accepting her last award, she dedicated it to the people of New Orleans, who are trying to recover after severe flooding destroyed homes and killed many citizens.
Beyoncé has come under scrutiny for her political leanings since her Formation performance at the Super Bowl. Some people said she and her dancers wore outfits that were a purposeful imitation of the Black Panther Party, a black nationalist organization popular in the 1960s.
Soon after, the singer wrote an open letter about the shooting deaths of black Americans at the hands of police officers. Many American police officers vowed to boycott her Formation tour, though no threats have actually materialized into action.
Beyoncé also performed at the 2014 VMAs for 16 minutes before accepting her own Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, which was awarded to Rihanna this year.
With files from The Associated Press