Jesse Williams, star of the television show “Grey’s Anatomy,” received several rousing standing ovations when he used BET‘s international television stage to say that the police kill unarmed black men, women and children with no fear they will ever be charged for a crime, meaning little has changed for African Americans over the centuries.
“Yesterday would’ve 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 drive-by on 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him and then going home to make a sandwich,” Williams said. “Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012 than in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.”
Williams is not the first black man to use television’s international stage to express anger about the way African Americans are treated by police.
During this year’s Academy Awards, singer John Legend, who shared an Oscar with the actor Common for composing the theme song for the movie “Selma,” said during his acceptance speech that more black men are in prison today than there were under slavery in 1850.
Williams added: “There has been no war we have not died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. No tax they haven’t levied against us. And we have paid all of them. But freedom is somehow conditional here. ‘You’re free,’ they keep telling us. ‘She would’ve been alive if she hadn’t acted so…free.’”
Williams, who plays plastic surgeon Dr. Jackson Avery on “Grey’s Anatomy,” received BET’s Humanitarian Award Sunday evening.