Black Lives Matter: John Boyega’s speech at Hyde Park hailed as defining moment in UK protests

Katherine Johnston (10 June, 2020)

Star Wars actor says he will continue dedicating his time to supporting young people in Southwark

35218Star Ward actor John Boyega with Compass school pupils earlier this year. He says he wants to do more to support young people in Southwark.

John Boyega, the Star Wars actor from Peckham, has emerged as one of the leading voices in the UK’s Black Lives Matter movement after giving an incredible speech in Hyde Park.

Over the weekend thousands defied calls to stay at home to join demonstrations in solidarity with protestors in the USA and to highlight racism in the UK.

“Black lives have always mattered,” Boyega told the crowd. “We have always been important. We have always meant something.

“We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.”

Those in attendance and others watching from home took to social media to praise his powerful speech as an era-defining moment, saying they shed tears watching him speak from the heart about racism.

“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.”

He went on to urge everyone to “understand how painful this is, to be reminded every day that your race means nothing” and said if his actions derailed his career then ‘f*** that’. He also called on black men to stand up for and support black women.

This week he shared his thanks on Instagram for all those who have supported the Black Lives Matter campaign, writing: “This is an intense time for our community, and the most important thing is for us to maintain momentum and not lose sight of how critical it is to pursue long term solutions and commitments, for the sake of our generation, and the next.”

He went on to say that he would continue using his platform to fight against injustice and inequality ‘no matter what’, before adding: “Before the pandemic hit, I visited a few schools in Southwark, to share my journey and to truly understand the minds and needs of our next generation.

“It was eye-opening and inspiring to say the least, and I look forward to continuing this work, and contributing more, once it is safe to do so.”

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