“Just a few weeks ago many students from that very high school joined the protest against gun violence,” Bebe Rexha said of the Santa Fe students. “They inspire me with their hope, with their compassion and with their determination to make a difference and build a better world.”
After the brief introduction from Rexha, the camera panned to Mendes in Khalid. They made a statement with their song during the award show but they also made a statement with their clothes. Mendes’ shirt read “Youth” while Khalid’s said, “Protect Our Guns” with the word gun crossed out and “Children” written below it.
“Pain but I won’t let it turn into hate. / I won’t let it change me. / You can’t take my youth away,” they sang. During the tribute, 12 members of Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School choir joined them on stage.
The audience was emotional during the tribute and Halsey was even seen with tears in her eyes. Following the performance, Khalid embraced many of the students on stage. The Billboard Music Awards audience stood and cheered, obviously very pleased with the tribute.
See a clip of the entire moment below.