Jesse Williams gives powerful speech on race in America at BET Awards

‘The thing is that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real,’ says the actor

When he’s not wearing scrubs as Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, Jesse Williams has become a prominent voice of the Black Lives Matter movement. From protesting in Ferguson, Missouri, to writing articles for CNN and The Huffington Post, Williams’ activism is the reason he’s the recipient of the BET Awards’ 2016 Humanitarian Award.

Williams, who was a history teacher before he started acting, is a member of the board of directors at both The Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization, and Sankofa, a social justice organization founded by Harry Belafonte that works to unite artists and grassroot partners to elevate the voices of the disenfranchised. Williams is also an executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a transmedia project that works to unite black males from different backgrounds in order to redefine black male identity in America.

And upon receiving the Humanitarian Award, Williams took to the stage, where he thanked both his parents and his wife before dedicating his award to “the real organizers all over the country,” whom he said are realizing that “a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.”

Williams went on to say, “The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize,” before dedicating his award in particular to black women, “who have spent their lives dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.”

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