John Boyega delivered a powerful speech at a Black Lives Matter protest in London’s Hyde Park on Wednesday. “Black lives have always mattered, we have always been important, we have always met suffering, we have always succeeded, regardless,” he began, as recorded by The Evening Standard, after thanking his fellow protestors for coming out.
“And now is the time. I ain’t waiting. I ain’t waiting. I have been born in this country. I’m 28-years-old, born and raised in London. And for a time, every black person understands and realises the first time you are reminded that you were black. You remember. Every black person in here remembered when another person reminded you that you were black. None of you out there, all those protesters on the other side, protesting against what we want to do, protesting against what we want to try and achieve. Darn you, because this is so vital.”
He continued, in tears:
“I need you guys to understand. I need you guys to understand. I need you to understand how painful this shit is. I need you to understand how painful it is. To be reminded every day that your race means nothing. And that isn’t the case anymore. There is never a case anymore. We are going to try it today. We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a physical representation in our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation on our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence, for Mark Duggan.”
In the speech, the Star Wars actor emphasized the importance of keeping this moment “as peaceful and as organized as possible”, adding “Today’s the day that we remind them that we are dedicated, and this is a lifelong dedication.”
Boyega also noted that he doesn’t care how his speaking out impacts his career. “I’m speaking to you from my heart,” he said. “Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but fuck that.”
The most complete footage of his speech is censored for language, but you can watch it in full below or get the transcript here.
The actor drew immense support from both his Star Wars co-stars and other celebrities.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 3, 2020
You KNOW that as long as I’m allowed to keep working, I’ll always be begging to work with you. Deep respect and love, my friend. https://t.co/DcMEwEmzh9
— JJ Abrams (@jjabrams) June 4, 2020
Meanwhile, as reported by Collider, director Matthew A. Cherry urged other film-makers and non-Black creators to join him in affirming that they stand with him and will work with him in future projects. Cathy Yan, Jordan Peele, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are just some of those who’ve tweeted their solidarity so far.
I would work with John Boyega and I urge other Non-Black creators to affirm that they have his back as well. https://t.co/SqXgmIS5aR
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) June 3, 2020
I would love to work w John Boyega https://t.co/zQTIP29SVR
— Cathy Yan (@CathyYan) June 3, 2020
We got you, John. https://t.co/oX7Rr52omx
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) June 3, 2020
Oh god I WISH, Ojalá! From Attack The Block to this day! pic.twitter.com/sB7eJqF0sy
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 3, 2020