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Jesse Williams Gives an Incredibly Moving Speech About Race at the BET Awards

At last night’s BET Awards, Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams gave an incredibly moving speech while accepting the program’s Humanitarian Award. 

He took the opportunity to talk about racism and violence in our society, naming those who have been victims of such atrocities in recent years. “Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich,” Williams proclaimed.

He continued, “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.”

Williams, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, got a standing ovation after he finished speaking. But the actor wanted his audience to know that is not enough. “If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.” 

You can read a full transcript of Williams’ speech here. We guarantee you’ll be all kinds of inspired.

Isabel is a currently the Evening & Weekend Editor at Her Campus and a student at New York University in the Global Liberal Studies program with a concentration in Contemporary Culture and Creative Production. When she is not watching Gilmore Girls or playing with puppies at the local pet store, she spends her time freelancing for numerous publications about celebrities and life. You can find her work on the websites of Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Seventeen, Elle, and Buzzfeed. Follow her on Instagram at @isabelcalkins.
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