The actor won the event's Humanitarian Award.
Jesse Williams has hit headlines this morning after a rousing speech about racism at the 2016 Bet Awards last night ((June 26th 2016). The 'Grey's Anatomy' was at the Black Entertainment Television event to pick up his Humanitarian Award for his work with civil rights groups.
Jesse Williams gives rousing racism speech
The actor talked about the racism that still occurs across the world in 2016, particularly in US police departments. He slammed cultural appropriation and drew the audience's attention to the other people out there working to make the lives of black people fairer and erase discrimination.
'This award... is for the real organizers all over the country, the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do', he said in his rousing speech when he went to collect his Humanitarian Award. 'We know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what's going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will re-structure their function and ours.'
He went on to name a few of the victims that have died at the hands of police brutality. 'Yesterday it would've been young Tamir Rice's 14th birthday so I don't want to hear any more 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', he said. 'Tell Rekia Boyd how it's so much better to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner, tell that to Sandra Bland, tell that to Darrien Hunt.'
More: Check out last year's BET Honors
He also expressed his concern about the influx of white people who are employing parts of black culture in their own lives. '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 like oil. Black gold', he said. 'Ghettoizing 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 though, just because we're magic doesn't mean we're not real.'
Jesse Williams has done much humanitarian work with black rights movements. He is on the board of directors at civil rights group The Advancement Project and directed a documentary earlier this year entitled 'Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement'. Back in 2014, he also joined the October protest in Ferguson, Missouri to stand against the reckless shooting of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown.
Also honoured at the 2016 BET Awards was Samuel L. Jackson who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Beyonce who won Best Female Pop Artist, Video of the Year, Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award and the Centric Award.
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