Jesse Williams received a standing ovation for his acceptance speech during the BET Awards— but it seems not everyone is happy with Williams's rousing words. An online petition has been collecting signatures asking for Jesse Williams to be laid off from Grey's Anatomy, where he plays Dr. Jackson Avery. The original petitioner, Erin Smith justifies it by saying that Jesse "spewed a racist, hate speech against law enforcement and white people".
The speech — which Samuel L. Jackson referred to as 'overwhelmingly satisfying and chilling'— moved for more involvement from the entertainment industry in racial issues, and praised the activists and organizers for their hard work trying to change the system.
"This is for the real organizers all over the country, the activists, the civil-rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do."
Watch his full speech below:
Jesse immediately received support and tributes from the activist scene — where he does his part in bringing awareness to the racial issues, especially as producer of the documentary Stay Woke— but they're not the only ones who have his back. Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes took to Twitter to let people know where she stands.
Having amassed over 8.2k signatures so far, the petition to have Jesse Williams fired has nothing on the petition supporting him - and his right to remain Jackson Avery. The pro petition has received a staggering 21.2k supporters thus far, having started two days after the petition to have him removed from Grey's Anatomy. Dawn Murphy, who opened the petition, defends Jesse Williams by saying that he "took a public stand on BET Awards show, risking his job and career for his beliefs."
As the petition digital war continues, one thing is sure: Shonda is having none of it!
Whether you approve of Jesse Williams's choice of words or think he took it a little too far, Jesse has done a wonderful job in Grey's Anatomy over the years, and is well-respected and admired by his peers and fans alike. Clearly, he's a human being - entitled to his own opinions - but it's up to us fans to be able to separate the Jesse Williams humanitarian and activist from Jesse Williams who plays Jackson Avery. In Jesse's own words: