The Surprising Political Side of ‘Hand in Hand’ Hurricane Relief Telethon

Celebrities made comments about climate change and immigration as they raised money for storm-ravaged cities.

September 13, 2017 8:51 am
Bun B, left, and Scooter Braun attend the Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief
Bun B, left, and Scooter Braun attend the Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief held at Universal Studios Back Lot on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 in Universal City, Calif. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP)

Celebrities gathered Tuesday evening for the hour long “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief,” which aired live on major television networks as well as streamed on social media.

Organized by music manager Scooter Braun and rapper Bun B, the benefit raised more than $14 million, according to the Los Angeles TimesGeorge Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Beyoncé, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, and more all spoke, performed, or sat behind a phone. But the LA Times writes that one person who wasn’t present seemed to hover above the show: Donald Trump, and his views on immigration and climate change.

Stevie Wonder started Hand in Hand by saying “Anyone who believes there is no such thing as global warming must be blind” — wink, wink — “or unintelligent,” reports LA Times, before singing “Lean on Me.”

Beyoncé also commented on the “violence and racism in this country” during a video message. And Braun himself referred to the “images of hate and division” that we see every day, writes LA Times. 

And Braun ended the night with a final performance by Luis Fonsi. Braun had a goal of making a Spanish-language song hit No. 1 in Trump’s time, which Fonsi’s song “Despacito” accomplished. Fonsi was joined by Tori Kelly for a run through of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to end the night, which LA Times writes was a “call to action disguised as a prayer for healing.”

Less politically-charged performances included Usher and Blake Shelton singing “Stand By Me” and Brad Paisley, Demi Lovato, Darius Rucker and CeCe Winans all singing “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

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