Jesse Williams’ Speech Transcript: Read His 2016 BET Humanitarian Award Speech

Jesse Williams
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Last night (June 26) at the BET Awards, Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams won the honor of receiving the BET Humanitarian Award. The Jesse Williams BET Awards speech is trending everywhere and rightfully so. In his 2016 BET Humanitarian Award speech, Jesse Williams talked at length about the Black Lives Matter movement, for which he has done a lot of work. As a human rights activist as well as a successful actor, there are few people in the world who are asking themselves, “Who is Jesse Williams?” We have for you here the Jesse Williams speech transcript, so that you can see what all the fuss is about!

If you do a search for “Jesse Williams BET Awards” or “Jesse Williams BET speech,” you’ll get a ton of hits regarding the now infamous speech. The Black Lives Matter movement is one that Jesse Williams has been highly active in, and his politically charged speech garnered a standing ovation from the audience. Citing incidences like the police brutality against Tamir Rice (who would have celebrated his 14th birthday on Saturday, June 25), Sandra Bland, and Dorian Hunt, Williams stated, “We know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm, and not kill white people every day. 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.”

Williams also cited black women as a cornerstone in the country, stating that they had spent their lives “nurturing everyone before themselves”. He also pointed out the irony of getting paid to represent brands while black people have a history of being branded (a reference to slavery when slave owners would literally brand people to keep track of their properties).

Perhaps most interesting part of the Jesse Williams BET Awards speech was the line, “The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.” An obvious remark to the many people who consider the Black Lives Matter movement to be violent and the many people who believe that the movement should achieve its goal in a more peaceful manner. Williams reminds everyone that it’s not the job of the oppressed to coddle the oppressor while trying to achieve the basic human rights that everyone deserves.


Williams concluded his speech with a note about how it’s time for black people to stop being crushed under the thumb of whiteness. He points out how the white-dominated world appropriates black culture, music, and lifestyle while simultaneously edging out the black people who invented and live these things. He concludes with the kicker: “Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

The Jesse Williams BET Awards speech is the talk of the town today, and once you read the transcript of it, you’ll understand just why that is. Check out the full speech at to see why Williams is being applauded for his bold, thoughtful, and powerful words.



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