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BET Awards: Jamie Foxx makes statement with Trayvon Martin T-shirt

July 01, 2013|By Meredith Blake

Actor Jamie Foxx made a silent but powerful fashion statement at Sunday’s BET Awards, where he opted out of the usual red-carpet finery in favor of a T-shirt bearing the image of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen whose shooting death last year sparked intense national debate over gun control and racial profiling.   

Foxx beat out the likes of Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson to win the evening’s prize for lead actor for his role as a vengeance-seeking freed slave in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” On stage to accept the award, he opted not to mention the controversy by name, allowing the shirt — which featured a stylized black-and-white version of the now-iconic close-up of Martin in a hoodie, and was paired with bright white jeans and shoes — to do the talking for him.

Foxx’s fashion statement arrived as the trial of George Zimmerman, the man who claims to have shot Martin in self-defense, enters its second week.

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It’s not the first time Foxx has made a public show of support for Martin. In April, he sported a shirt featuring Martin’s image alongside those of children killed in the Newtown school shooting and the phrase “Know Justice, Know Peace” to the MTV Movie Awards. He also participated in a protest commemorating the one-year anniversary of Martin’s death.

As he later explained to Jay Leno, he was moved to get involved with the case after a tearful encounter with the late teen’s mother at the NAACP Image Awards, and by the work of actor and activist Harry Belafonte.

Nor was Foxx's shirt the only tribute of the evening. Before presenting the trophy for male R&B artist, which would go to Miguel, Don Cheadle acknowledged the ailing Nelson Mandela.

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“We want to take a moment and send our prayers and thoughts to a man who literally changed the world,” he said. “We would like to offer prayers and support and hope to the extraordinary Nelson Mandela and his family.”

Elsewhere in the show, presenters Forest Whitaker and Michael B. Jordan spoke about their upcoming film “Fruitvale Station,” which depicts the 2009 shooting of an unarmed young black man at an Oakland BART station. Ads for the film, which opens later this month, also played throughout the 3½-hour broadcast.

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Twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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