Star Wars’ John Boyega gives stirring speech at Black Lives Matter rally

Star Wars actor John Boyega has issued an emotional rallying cry at a demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter in London’s Hyde Park.

Videos and photos have been widely shared on Twitter of the star’s moving speech, as he told thousands of people that he needed them to “understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing”.

“That isn’t the case anymore. That is never the case anymore,” Boyega said, becoming visibly more emotional as the speech went on.

“We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence.”

George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and Stephen Lawrence have all died at the hands of white police officers or in racially motivated attacks.

Floyd’s death last Monday in Minneapolis, Minnesota – when a former police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, despite Floyd’s protests that he couldn’t breathe – has sparked days of demonstrations across the US and in other cities around the world.

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“We need to take care of our black men. We need to take care of our black women,” Boyega, who has been vocal about support for the Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movement in the US, told demonstrators.

“They’re ours. They’re our hearts. They’re our future. We cannot demonise our own. We are the pillars of the family. Imagine this: A nation that is set up with individual families that are thriving, that are healthy, that communicate, that raise their children in love, have a better rate of becoming better human beings.

“Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always been something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time – I ain’t waiting.”

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While Boyega said during his speech he didn’t “know if I’m going to have a career after this, but f**k that,” a number of fellow actors and Hollywood directors came out in support of him after the speech went viral.

“I would work with John Boyega and I urge other non-black creators to affirm that they have his back as well,” writer and director Matthew Cherry wrote in a tweet, while his Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill said he’d “never been more proud”.

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