Watch Jesse Williams’s Powerful Speech on Racism and Black Lives Matter at the BET Awards


When Samuel L. Jackson says you've delivered the kind of speech that hasn't been heard since the 1960s, you know you've done something right. At the BET Awards last night, Jesse Williams turned his acceptance speech into a sermon on the scars inflicted by racism, and the importance of participating and supporting activists in the time of Black Lives Matter. "This award is not for me," Williams said after receiving the Humanitarian Award for dedication to social issues. "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."

Williams, who stars in Grey's Anatomy, joined the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and executive produced the documentary Stay Woke, took his time onstage to bring up the legacy of police brutality against black people, and on the shooting of Tamir Rice. "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," Williams said, "killing him on television, and then going home to make a sandwich." Watch the full speech — a moving and powerful blend of anger, defiance, and hope — above.