Everyone is still stuck on the profound words of actor Jesse Williams, who humbly dropped several truths on Sunday night while accepting the Humanitarian award during the 16th annual BET Awards.
The activist recently told PEOPLE that the words he proclaimed on stage were merely offered as a comfort to let people know they don’t fight the battles of racism alone.
“Words are only as good as the response to those words,” he said. “But I’d like to think that I give people a sense that they are not alone. Otherwise we are treating the symptoms and not the sickness.”
The Grey’s Anatomy star worked as a Philadelphia public school teacher before breaking into Hollywood and noted that his own educational upbringing and the current landscape of the school system don’t help to properly inform students about all the “contributions of brown people in the history of the world and the country.”
“If we keep poisoning our children to believe that we are nothing and that white people are everything, that’s when it finds itself reflected in the way we treat each other. It’s not that complicated. The truth we are teaching is that every contribution in the history of the planet came from blonde people. It’s not true and it’s destructive and people are getting killed longterm as a result. People don’t believe that we deserve it,” he added. “I grew up in a really horrible school system, but my parents did not let that define how we function. They gave me more work at home from them than I ever got from school. To learn about the history of myself and my people and that armors me.”
Williams, who is a married father of two, has plans to expand his role in helping to change education practices by developing a reading list to further knowledge and raise awareness for often ignored parts of history.
“Whether you are reading about Frederick Douglass or you are reading about all the black inventors in the country that invented so many things that we touch and feel every day, or you can get really heavy with the history of African civilization, there is a lot in between.”
In case you missed it, or just want to relive his compelling speech (like all of us do), watch the full speech below.
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