'Grey's Anatomy' star Jesse Williams gives impassioned Black Lives Matter speech at BET Awards

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Grey's Anatomy Star Jesse Williams Talked About Racism at the BET Awards

It's safe to say that 34-year-old Grey's Anatomy star Jesse Williams stole the BET Awards on Sunday night with a wildly inspirational, confrontational speech that is bound to become a cornerstone of the Black Lives Matter movement. Later in the show, Samuel L. Jackson said he hadn't heard a speech like it since the 1960s.

Williams has appeared in multiple films, but he was honored with BET's Humanitarian Award for his activism. In October 2014, he joined protests in Ferguson, Missouri to protest the shooting of Michael Brown. He was also an actor and executive producer of Stay Woke, a documentary about the movement that premiered in May. He has written extensively on Black Lives Matter and met with President Obama earlier this year to discuss his humanitarian work.

BET CEO Debra Lee presented his award "for his continued efforts and steadfast commitment to furthering social change."

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He began by thanking BET and all involved in the video that preceded his appearance, his wife and his parents "for teaching me to focus on comprehension over career, they made sure I learned what the schools are afraid to teach us.

PHOTOS: BET Awards red carpet arrivals

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2016 BET Awards Red Carpet Arrivals
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2016 BET Awards Red Carpet Arrivals
Taraji P. Henson (Photo by Kevin Winter/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Gabrielle Union (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Andra Day (Getty)
Meagan Good (Photo by Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images for BET)
DJ Khaled  (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Naturi Naughton (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Mya  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Janelle Monae  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Tracee Ellis Ross a (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 French Montana  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Bryshere Y. Gray  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Fantasia Barrino is wearing a spike earring and cross necklace (worn as a bracelet) by La Soula and a cuff bracelet by Tulah Jem.  

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)

Tisha Campbell-Martin  (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Jesse Williams (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
Samuel L. Jackson (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Tia Mowry  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Quvenzhane Wallis (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
MzVee  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Sophie Beem  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
 Karrueche Tran (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Yara Shahidi  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
 Loni Love  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Orlando Jones  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Nandi Mngoma  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Millen Magese  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Mara  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
 Danielle Mone Truitt (Photo by Maury Phillips/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Remy Ma (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Yvette Nicole Brown  and Marcus Scribner (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Jasmine Sanders (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)
LeToya Luckett  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Diamond Platnumz  (Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET)
Marcus Scribner (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Katlynn Simone (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Morris Chestnut (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Zulay Henao (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
 Eva Marcille  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
Anthony Anderson  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Jermaine Dupri (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
 Miles Brown (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 2 Chainz  (Photo by Maury Phillips/BET/Getty Images for BET)
 Questlove  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
 Kristal Lyndriette, Ashley Williams, Shyann Roberts, Brienna DeVlugt and Gabby Carreiro of June's Diary (Photo by Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images for BET)
 Desiigner (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Regina Hall (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Samamat (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
Anthony Hamilton  (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Irv Gotti (L) and recording artist Ashley Martelle  (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
Mayte Garcia (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Marsai Martin (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
 The Roots  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
 Fabolous  (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
MAJOR. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Actress Lela Loren attends the Make A Wish VIP Experience at the 2016 BET Awards on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Actor Rob Hardy (L) and Shaun Hardy attend the 2016 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Singer Anthony Brown attends the 2016 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Actress Tasha Smith attends the Make A Wish VIP Experience at the 2016 BET Awards on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Singer Tinashe attends the 2016 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26: Actor Keith Powers attends the Nissan red carpet during the 2016 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/BET/Getty Images for BET)
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"This award is not for me," he continued. "This is for the real organizers all over the country, the activist, 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. It's kinda basic mathematics: the more we learn about who we are and how we got here the more we will mobilize.

"This award is also for the black women in particular who have spent their lives nurturing everyone before themselves -- we can and will do better for you.

"Now, 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 every day. So what's going to happen is we're going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours. [Standing ovation.]

"I got more, y'all. Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice's 14th birthday so 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, killing him on television, and then going home to make a sandwich.

"Tell Rekia Boyd how it's so much better to live in 2012 than 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner, Sandra Bland.

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"The thing is though, all of us here are getting money, that alone isn't going to stop this. Dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back to put someone's brand on our body -- when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies, and now we pray to get paid for brands on our bodies?

"There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There is no job we haven't done, there is no tax they haven't levied against us, and we have paid all of them.

"But freedom is always conditional here. 'You're free!' they keeping telling us. 'But she would be alive if she hadn't acted so...; free.' Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter, but the hereafter is a hustle: We want it now.

"Let's get a couple of things straight. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander -- that's not our job so let's stop with all that. If you have a critique for our resistance then you'd better have an established record, a critique of our oppression.

"If you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do: sit down.

"We've been floating this country on credit for centuries, and we're done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil -- black gold! -- ghettoizing and demeaning our creations and stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit.

"Just because we're magic doesn't mean we're not real. Thank you."

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.

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