Here’s Jesse Williams’ empowering speech at the BET Awards

Jesse Williams accepts the Humanitarian Award onstage during the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, in Los Angeles, California.
Image: Photo by Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET

Jesse Williams delivered an instantly iconic speech praising the work of “real organizers all over the country” while accepting the Humanitarian Award at the BET Awards on Sunday.

The Grey’s Anatomyactor and longtime activist was presented his award by BET chairman and CEO Debra Lee.

He began by thanking his parents and his wife, as well as Harry Belafonte, Nate Parker and Debbie Allen, who all spoke about Williams’ activist work in a clip preceding his award presentation. Then he got into it, delivering a powerful speech about the lack of equality for black people, cultural appropriation and police brutality.

“Police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday,” he said. “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.”

Read the full transcript of his speech below.

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