On Sunday, Jesse Williams wowed the crowd at the BET Awards to accept the honor for humanitarian of the year. The Grey’s Anatomy star was the most talked about on all social media platforms with his moving speech, which made him the highlight of the night for many.
“This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers of students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do,” said Williams, who linked arms with Ferguson activists in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in the fall of 2014 and executive-produced Stay Woke, a documentary which traced the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement and debuted on BET in May.
Williams then paid homage to the unsung heroes in the crusade against systemic racism: the “black women who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves.” “We can and will do better for you,” he said.
The honoree went on to call for more effective policing while decrying the extrajudicial killing of black people, invoking the memory of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Rekia Boyd, among others.
Williams also lambasted the practice of consuming black culture while devaluing black life: “We’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment… ghetto-lyzing and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is — just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
You can check out Jesse Williams’ inspiring speech Here