The BET Awards held tonight produced several memorable moments – including an epic opening by Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar that blew the roof off, and a tribute to Prince performed by Bilal, Erykah Badu and The Roots. But the highlight happened later in the evening when Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams accepted BET’s Humanitarian Award. First paying tribute to activists, working classes, African American mothers, and others who he said did the real work advancing equal rights, Williams gave an impassioned speech that dig deep into the ongoing discussion of police violence against African Americans. “Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday,” Williams said referencing the unarmed boy who was shot without cause two years ago in a public park by a police officer. “So I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when public servants can pull a drive by on a twelve year old playing alone in a park in broad daylight.”
Williams named off a list of unarmed African Americans who have been killed in recent years by police, adding “but the thing is though, all of us in here getting money, that isn’t gonna stop this,” he said, calling out materialism in the black community. “Freedom is always coming in the hereafter,” he continued. “You know what though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.” At the conclusion of his speech, Williams received loud cheers and a standing ovation. Watch the whole thing above.
And if you’re interested, here’s Beyonce and Kendrick:
And the tribute to Prince: