Here it is, the 2016 Bet Awards speech from Jesse Williams that is absolutely breaking the Internet this morning. And if you didn’t realize the BET Awards took place last night and you missed Jesse Williams’ speech then don’t worry, you’re not alone. I wasn’t able to tune in because I was flipping channels between HBO’s Game of Thrones season finale and the Copa America finals, a game that went to penalty kicks which saw Argentina lose after Lionel Messi missed his PK. In hindsight, I’m kind of bummed I wasn’t able to tune into the 2016 BET Awards because actor/philanthropist Jesse Williams gave the most moving speech of 2016, hands down.
The actor/activist accepted the Humanitarian Award for his work in the black community. After going through his customary thank yous and acknowledgements, he said this:
“A system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.”
It was at that point you could feel everyone in the audience knew that the focus of the night shifted and that “ratchet” wasn’t a part of the equation. He cited facts and figures, telling the audience that police officers manage to peacefully de-escalate situations with people everyday, but clearly that’s not the case for black people. He demanded equal rights and justice in our own country, or “we will restructure their function and ours.” Everyone gave him a standing ovation but it wasn’t over.
He just kept going until there wasn’t a person sitting in their chair, until everyone in the house was clapping so goddamn hard their hands hurt. Everyone who ever needs to give a speech should watch this over and over and over, because THIS is how you give a speech.
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