Long-lasting change is within close reach for Black people, and now is no time to ease up on the momentum, according to John Boyega, who responded to the praise he received for giving a speech on racism in London’s Hyde Park last week.
The speech was given at a Black Lives Matter rally on June 3 in response to George Floyd dying on Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
“Black lives have always mattered,” said the “Star Wars” actor during the speech. “We have always succeeded regardless, and now is the time. I ain’t waiting. I need you guys to understand how painful this s–t is. To be reminded every day that your race means nothing.”
Many said they were proud of Boyega for the viral speech, but in his response, he shied away from the compliments.
“I want to thank you all for the love and support you have shared over the last few days, although nothing I have done is for praise, or is truly even enough, in the grand scheme of things,” he wrote on Instagram on June 7 next to a photo of himself visiting a school in the London borough of Southwark. “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.”
Afterward, Boyega said although people should keep their fires burning when it comes to pursuing individual goals, that flame shouldn’t extinguish their desire to keep fighting for change.
“I believe any great movement starts with a renewal of the mind,” wrote Boyega. “I know you’re all thinking, what’s next? Where do we go from here? Because I’m thinking the same s–t! Conversations about Black businesses, ownership and support are happening, and I will continue to have these conversations with the full intention of birthing ideas that are sustainable and tangible.”
Like many celebrities have been doing, Boyega has been commenting on Floyd’s death shortly after it happened, and in May wrote, “I really f—g hate racists.”
One person accused him of using Floyd’s death as a way to get everyone to turn on white people and said because Boyega is not from the United States he should keep quiet.
“Stop jumping on the bandwagon, you are not even American,” wrote one Twitter user. “As disgusting, sad and bad as it was with #GeorgeFloyd you just using excuse to spout hate against White people.”
“Yet I have family and friends there who could be any one of the victims of things don’t change,” Boyega wrote back. “Yet I work there 6 months of the year and I don’t want to work in fear. You don’t know a thing about me. So keep your dutty mouth shut.”