Last night’s BET awards featured some high profile tributes to Prince, an on-stage collaboration between Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar and appearances by countless celebrities, but, the evening’s most talked about moment came during an acceptance speech.
Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams received the humanitarian award at the BET Awards last night, and gave an impassioned, 4-minute speech about civil rights, systematic injustice, police brutality, cultural appropriation and the Black Lives Matter movement. He said,
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.
Addressing the deaths of numerous African-Americans by law enforcement in recent years, Williams said,
There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we’ve paid all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. ‘You’re free,’ they keep telling us. ‘But she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so—free.
The speech drew an extended standing ovation from hundreds in the crowd. You can watch the whole thing here.