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Actor Jesse Williams Makes Passionate Speech On Race At BET Awards

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Jesse Williams
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Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams received passionate cheers during a rousing speech he made on the state of racism and police brutality in our country while accepting the humanitarian of the year award at Sunday’s Bet Awards.

“What we’ve been doing is looking at the data, and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm, and not kill white people everyday. So what’s gonna happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country, or we will restructure their function and ours. 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 a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and going home to make sandwich,” Williams said.

Reverends Emmett Price and Irene Monroe joined Boston Public Radio Monday for another edition of All Revved Up to discuss the implication and legacy of politically charged speeches from celebrities like the one Williams made on Sunday night.

“I loved it, and I loved it for a number of reasons,” said Monroe. While watching Williams’ speech, Monroe was reminded of Harry Belafonte and the history of black Hollywood activists. In his memoir, Belafonte wrote, “I wasn’t an actor who became an activist, I was an activist who became and actor.”   “Jesse is the embodiment of that,” said Monroe.  

Price agreed that Williams’ speech was a meaningful statement on the treatment of black people in America. “It was a huge moment, and I agree with Questlove… who tweeted out, ‘Jesse Williams for president 2016.’” Price focused on how Williams being biracial has allowed him to view the world from a white and black perspective, giving him unique insight into today’s prevalent race issues. Most importantly, says Price, it has given him the opportunity to see necessary inclusivity is to actually overcome racism. “We don’t make progress in these situations and these issues until all of us are focused on it and it is important to all of us, and so he bridges that and brings the best of that,” said Price.

Obama has not used his biracialism in the same way Williams’ did to make this kind of speech, says Monroe. “It is just wonderful to see this kind of person come forth unabashedly and talk about these issues,” she said.

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