Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer act Brandon Leake performed a powerful Black Lives Matter poem during Tuesday’s fourth and final round of “America’s Got Talent” live quarter-finals.
Leake, who is the show’s first-ever spoken-word poet to compete, referenced the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake during his performance.
“Normally death don’t really bother me, I’m from southside Stockton,” he recited. “I’m all too familiar with how some family reunions only ever take place on graveyard grass, and a hole can be a safe haven for a soul in this mortal game of hide and go seek. But, there is something so different about Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, and the countless others.”
“And as I stared at that screen, I couldn’t help but think I was looking at a mirror image of myself being choked out for merely existing or for daring to be more than three-fifths of what them folk thought them to be. Or maybe it was simply due to the hue and in that moment I better understand my Black mother’s greatest fear was every time I left her home, on the other side of her phone would no longer be her son, it would be America’s next most popular hashtag.”
Leake later said, “My mother’s greatest fear is that I won’t return home breathing, blood pulsing through these veins enough to still be her Pookie. My mom warned me, ‘Son, don’t you dare get caught at the wrong place at the wrong time with that wrong coloured skin… I need you to return home my Pookie.'”
Heidi Klum told Leake after the heart-wrenching performance, “You were my favourite act of the night.”
Mandel said, “You took an older white guy and put myself into the body of an African-American mother, just hoping that her son survives life.
“This is the conversation we’re having now, this is the conversation America needs to have. I am so proud to be here in this room, I am so proud that I pushed the Golden Buzzer… in my heart, you just won the whole night.”
Find out if Leake makes it through to the next round on Wednesday’s results show.