Last week, in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, Star Wars actor John Boyega began an emotional protest with a five-word tweet: “I really fucking hate racists.”
The next day, Boyega said on social media that as a teenager, he was “jumped and called a African monkey." He fought back against racist Twitter trolls who harassed him over his Star Wars success and his ties to the franchise. "You lot can’t rattle me. I’m not the guy to be rattled. I wasn’t raised by no weak people," he said in an Instagram story defending his tweet.
On Wednesday morning, Boyega took his fight against white supremacy off social media, and into the streets. At a protest against Floyd’s death in London’s Hyde Park, he grabbed a megaphone, and gave a moving, passionate speech to thousands of protestors.
"Black lives have always mattered," Boyega said. "We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain't waiting. I ain't waiting."
“Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting,” @johnboyega just told #BlackLivesMatter protesters in London’s Hyde Park pic.twitter.com/P49cbwIp6P
— Haley Ott (@haleyjoelleott) June 3, 2020
With Boyega’s public demonstration, he joined the thousands protesting in America, hundreds of miles away, demanding justice for Floyd. In his speech, he not only listed the names of black American men who were killed by police officers—he called attention to police brutality in his own country. Boyega named Stephen Lawrence and Mark Duggan, two black British teenagers who were murdered by police, in 1993 and 2011, respectively.
"Every black person understands and realizes the first time you are reminded that you are black," he said. "You remember. Every black person in here remembers when another person reminded you that you were black."
John Boyega breaks down into tears as he speaks to protesters in Hyde Park. He continued to say black men must respect black women. #StarWars #BlackLivesMattter #GeorgeFloydProtests pic.twitter.com/ASaJhPNm05
— Nick McAvaney (@nick_mcavaney) June 3, 2020
Boyega fought back tears throughout his address, even saying at one point, “Look I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this but, fuck that.” (Jordan Peele quickly responded via Twitter: "We got you, John.") Boyega reiterated, too, how important it is to make the protests as peaceful as possible, adding that "They want us to mess up."
"This is so vital," Boyega said. "I need you guys to understand how painful this shit is."
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