Actor John Boyega from Star Wars gave a speech at Hyde Park in London at a George Floyd protest June 3. Read the full transcript of his speech here.
John Boyega George Floyd Protest London Speech Transcript
John Boyega: (00:00) First of all, I want to thank every single one of you for coming out. This is very important. This is very vital. Black lives have always mattered, we have always been important, we have always met suffering, we have always succeeded, regardless. 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 realizes 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.
John Boyega: (00:45) 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.
Speaker 2: (00:54) Sit down, sit down. [crosstalk 00:00:01:02].
John Boyega: (00:54) Sit down. Guys, if you could sit down. If you could sit down. If you could sit down.
John Boyega: (00:57) I need you guys to understand. I need you guys to understand. I need you to understand how painful this (beep) 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.
John Boyega: (02:06) It is very, very important that we keep control to this moment and we make this as peaceful as possible. We make this as peaceful and as organized as possible. Because you know what guys, they want us to mess up. They want us to be disorganized, but not today. Not today. Not today. (beep).
John Boyega: (02:23) This message is specifically for black men. Black men [crosstalk 00:02:38]. Black men, black men, we need to take care of our black women. We need to care of them. They are us. They are us. They are our future. We cannot demonize 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. And that’s what we need to create. Black men, it starts with you.
John Boyega: (03:12) Hey, it’s bad man. We can’t be trust no more. We have to be better. You don’t understand. I’m speaking to you from my heart. Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career off that this (beep) [crosstalk 00:03:36]
John Boyega: (03:38) Today is about innocent people who were halfway through that process. We don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved. We don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved, but today we’re going to make sure that that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones. I’m sure you all came today, you left your kids, and when you see your kids, they’re aimlessly playing. They don’t understand what’s going on. Today’s the day that we remind them that we are dedicated, and this is a lifelong dedication.
John Boyega: (04:11) Guys, we don’t leave here and stop. We don’t leave here and stop. This is longevity. Some of you are artists. Some of you are bankers. Some of you are lawyers. Some of you own shop stores, you are important. Your individual power, your individual right is very, very important. We can all join together to make this a better world. We can all do it together to make this special. We can all join together.
What is the most important source of news and therefore the most powerful media organisation in the world today?
Well, there is a good argument that the answer is not a newspaper or broadcasting organisation but a social network, Facebook.
After all, it has 1.6 billion users and is becoming an ever more important place for them to share news. More than 40% of the population of the United States say they get news on Facebook – and for many it is where they go to share and comment on stories.
Stories like this – “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President”, “Barack Obama Admits He Was Born in Kenya”, or “Trump said in 1998 ‘If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country’.”
What all of those stories had in common was that they were completely made up. That did not stop them being shared by millions of Facebook users.
Whoever created this torrent of untruth probably had two motives – to cause mischief and to make a large amount of cash through the adverts that are the lifeblood of Facebook and the businesses which live off what it describes as its ecosystem.
But they also succeeded in unleashing a debate about fake news and whether the internet, far from spreading enlightenment as its creators once hoped, was leaving us worse informed.
At first Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared unwilling to engage with that debate, dismissing the idea that fake news could have swung the presidential election as “crazy”.
But it soon became clear that this position was untenable and that even inside Facebook there was plenty of agonising going on over its role in fakery.
Some days later Mr Zuckerberg took to – you’ve guessed it – Facebook to share some good news. “We’ve been working on this problem a long time and take this responsibility seriously,” he wrote.
Mr Zuckerberg detailed plans to identify untrue stories and, in his words, disrupt the economics of fake news by making sure that it did not benefit from advertising.
Of course Facebook is trying to apply a new technology solution to an age-old problem, hoping it can come up with an algorithm which will sift truth from falsehood.
We used to think that was a job for editors, so maybe journalists need to take a long hard look at their own profession before being too sniffy about the ethics of social media firms.
But Mr Zuckerberg’s change of heart seemed to show that he now realises he is an extremely powerful editor – and that with this comes weighty responsibilities as well as huge power.
But earlier this week up popped a story in my Facebook feed. “Facebook worked on special software so it could potentially accommodate censorship demands in China,” it said.
Surely fake, I thought – would a company dedicated to truth really be developing a tool which would allow the Chinese authorities to suppress it? But then I saw the report was from the venerable New York Times and Facebook was not denying it, merely saying that it was “spending time understanding and learning more” about China.
We know that Mr Zuckerberg does have a deep interest in China – he has been learning Mandarin after all.
And Facebook is not alone among Western technology firms in wrestling with the dilemma of wanting access to this lucrative market while holding on to some of their values of free expression.
The same can be said of a few media organisations – 20 years ago Rupert Murdoch opted not to publish a book critical of China at a time when his satellite TV empire was trying to expand there.
I am not entirely sure that Mark Zuckerberg would like the comparison, but in many ways he is shaping up to be the Murdoch of the next 20 years. A global media tycoon, with great sway over how we understand our world.
And one with commercial incentives to shape the news to suit all sorts of different views of what is truth and what is fake.