Friday, July 1, 2016

Actor & Activist Jesse Williams' Speech At The 2016 BET Awards (complete transcript, full audio, & partial video)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides a full transcript of the acceptance speech that African American television actor Jesse Williams gave upon receiving the 2016 Humanitarian award at the BET Awards event.

A video of part of that speech and the full audio of that speech are also included in this post along with information about Jesse Williams.

The content of this post is presented for historical and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Jesse Williams for his activism and his powerful words. Thanks to the transcriber of Jesse Williams' acceptance speech and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. In addition, thanks to the publishers of the YouTube examples which are showcased in this post.

"Jesse Wesley Williams (born August 5, 1981)[1] is an American actor, model, and activist, best known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC Television series Grey's Anatomy. He also appears in the 2013 film Lee Daniels' The Butler as real life civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson.

Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois,[2] the son of Johanna Chase, a professional potter, and Reginald Williams.[3] Williams has stated that his mother is Swedish, while his father is African American and some Seminole descent from Georgia....

In May 2016, Williams released a documentary film he directed entitled Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement.

Williams is the youngest member of the board of directors at The Advancement Project, a civil rights think tank and advocacy group. He is also the executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a multifaceted media project, art exhibition, student and teacher curriculum and website,[20] focused on the black male identity and the diversity within the demographic. He has written articles for CNN[21] and The Huffington Post,[22] and has been a guest on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room.

In October 2014, as part of Ferguson October, Williams joined thousands in Ferguson, Missouri, to protest the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.[23] In June 2016, he won the BET humanitarian award, delivering a speech highlighting racial injustice, police brutality, and cultural appropriation.[24]"...

From "Read the Full Transcript of Jesse Williams’ Powerful Speech on Race at the BET Awards", Megan Lasher, June 27, 2016
Honoree Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award onstage during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams was awarded BET’s Humanitarian Award on Sunday night. The outspoken human rights activist—who executive produced the recent documentary, Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement— delivered a powerful and political speech about the cause he’s worked so hard on….

The speech received a standing ovation by the audience, who went on to praise Williams on Twitter. A transcript of it has been published in multiple places, including The Washington Post and Bustle. Below, Genius‘s account of the speech:

"Peace peace. Thank you, Debra. Thank you, BET. Thank you Nate Parker, Harry and Debbie Allen for participating in that.

Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight. I just want to thank them for being here, for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, and that they make sure I learn what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also thank my amazing wife for changing my life.

Now, this award – this is not for me. This 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.

It’s kind of basic mathematics – the more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.

Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, 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 restructure their function and ours.

Now… I got more y’all – 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 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better than it is to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that toEric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Dorian Hunt.

Now the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money – that alone isn’t gonna stop this. Alright, now dedicating our lives, dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back for someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies.

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 is no tax they haven’t leveed 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.

Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now.

And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo, and 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, 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… the thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.

Thank you."
The explanatory comments about Jesse Williams' speech are given in italics in this post to distinguish them from the speech itself.


Jesse Williams Speech

Blackwomenspeak, Published on Jun 27, 2016

Jesse Williams Speech. Subscribe Today to this YouTube Channel and Follow us on Twitter @BlackWomen_ If You Like This Message Please Share this video on Twitter, Facebook and all of your social media channels.

A number of commenters wrote that they had searched for the full video of Jesse William's speech,but could only find parts of that speech along with commenters' analysis. I also could not find the full video of that speech.

Commenters thanked Blackwomenspeak for publishing this full audio of Williams' speech, indicating that this is the only example of that full audio that they've been able to find on YouTube.


Jesse Williams' fiery BET Awards speech

CBSN Published on Jun 27, 2016

Actor Jesse Williams took on racism in a BET Awards speech that went viral. CBSN's Meg Oliver has more.
Jesse Williams' speech is up to 1:41 of this 2:48 minute video.
UPDATE: July 1, 2016 (9:22)
Click for the full video of Jesse William's acceptance speech, along with the complete transcript of that speech.

Also, in reading that article I learned that "Debra" who is referenced in the beginning of Jesse Williams speech is BET (Black Entertainment Television) CEO Debra Lee, the woman who is seen introducing Williams and handing him his award.

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