Barack Obama didn't attend the BET Awards, but that didn't stop attendees from talking about him.
“If we all register and vote, we will have the first black president in the history of America,” Sean “Diddy” Combs told the crowd Tuesday at the Shrine Auditorium before chanting “Obama or Die” — a declarative remix of his neutral “Vote or Die” motto from the 2004 presidential election, when he attempted to boost the youth vote.
Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was just a few blocks away at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for a fundraiser with a Hollywood guest list that included supermodels Heidi Klum and Cindy Crawford, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard and movie stars Samuel L. Jackson and John Malkovich. While Obama didn't make an appearance at the BET Awards — either live or on tape — his presence was felt.
As she picked up her award for best female R&B artist, Alicia Keys told the crowd that it's time for black people to erase the word “can't” from their vocabulary.
“Together we can do anything,” she said, playing on the Democrat's “Yes We Can” mantra before shouting: “Obama y'all!”
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, failed to merit a shoutout by any of the BET presenters or performers.
“For the first time in history, we have the opportunity for somebody who's not in the good ol' boy network to get into office,” rapper David Banner told reporters backstage. “People talk about his lack of experience, but there's people with much more experience who haven't done such a good job.”