Watch CBSN Live

Jesse Williams reflects on powerful BET Awards speech

Jesse Williams' Viral Speech
Jesse Williams' Viral Speech 02:39

Jesse Williams reflected on his powerful speech at Sunday's BET Awards after the show.

He told ET that he felt that he was a mouthpiece for other activists out of the spotlight.

"I'm here for all the incredible protestors, activists, attorneys, organizers that are sacrificing [an] incredibly great deal to be heard and get access to equal rights and justice in this country," he said on Sunday. "[The BET Awards] recognizing me is really recognizing them, in my view, and I think that means that we're getting traction."

He added that all people should try to exercise more compassion, regardless of their experience.

"My personal experience doesn't necessarily fuel my ability to see humanity in places, and in the places they tell us it doesn't lurk," he said to ET. "We should be able to ask others to see themselves in us and we should be able to see ourselves in others."

During his speech on Sunday, the actor talked about cultural appropriation and said, "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 then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit."

Williams also told People that it's important to start early in educating people about the accomplishments of black people in the U.S.

"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," the "Grey's Anatomy" actor said. "Its 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 its destructive and people are getting killed longterm as a result. People don't believe that we deserve it."

Williams said that even though he grew up in a "horrible school system," his parents educated him at home. He said he plans to share a reading list online eventually so people can educate themselves and their children.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue