Jesse Williams might be best known for playing a doctor on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, but the Grey’s Anatomy star who is Jesse made a whole new name for himself when Williams received the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards. Jesse, as seen in the below video, made a rousing speech to the crowd. Williams also introduced his parents to the audience and told others how instrumental they were in raising him to believe the things he does.
— TUBAA (@TUBAAOwls) June 27, 2016
Jesse also served as executive producer for the movie Stay Woke: the Black Lives Matter Movement, a film in which Williams was also interviewed. But it was Jesse’s speech, which included lots of the names of victims in recent police shootings, that caught the attention of the crowd and made Twitter come alive with comments. Now many excerpts from Jesse’s speech are being reprinted on social media.
As reported by E!, Jesse’s words reverberated with the BET Awards audience, as he took on everything from police brutality to chastising the audience for making big money that is then turned around and spent on brands that don’t necessary always have African-American interests at heart.
Before even hitting the stage, Jesse was called a champion of change, someone who could speak for those who were voiceless.
“Now, this award, this is not for me, this is for the real organizers all over the country, activist civil rights attorneys, the parents, the teachers, the students who are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics, the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.”
Williams also made sure to give a special shout out to black women who have long nurtured others before taking care of themselves.
“Now, this is also in particular for the black women who have spent their lifetime dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves, we can and will do better for you.”
The thought-provoking speech mentioned Tamir Rice, with Jesse calling him a young boy playing at the park who got shot by a police officer who then went home to make a sandwich. As a result of the shooting death, the city of Cleveland is set to pay Tamir’s family $6 million to settle their wrongful death lawsuit, reports Cleveland Scene Weekly.
— ✨ Tai J. ✨ (@mrsjerseybelle5) June 27, 2016
“The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.”
Folks reacting to Jesse’s speech on Twitter are writing a myriad of things. Some people write that the BET Awards should have ended with Williams’ words, because they were so powerful and piercing that everything afterward seemed less meaningful.
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”
Jesse touched on the “Black Girl magic” often quoted on Twitter and other social media platforms, which tries to explain that unknown quotient that describes the “It Factor” of black women. Williams wanted to ensure that magical thinking meant that realness and important social issues were not overlooked.
Jesse also took folks to task for cultural appropriation – the borrowing of certain black styles, with perpetrators trying them on like a costume to be discarded when no longer wanted.
Meanwhile, reactions like the following are pouring into social media.
“I’m still stuck on Jesse Williams’ speech.”
“The U.S. got Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton running for president when there’s Jesse Williams.”
“I keep watching Jesse Williams’ speech. Wow. So freaking powerful. This man.”
“The speech of the evening is about race and justice.”
“Jesse Williams has been zaddy for years, and playing Dr. Avery had nothing to do with it.”
[Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Images]