John Boyega speech: what the Star Wars actor said at Hyde Park Black Lives Matter protest - and why he's been called a “hero”

The Star Wars actor joined Black Lives Matter demonstrations in London

John Boyega speaks to the crowd during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park  (Getty Images)
John Boyega speaks to the crowd during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park (Getty Images)

Actor John Boyega made an emotional speech at London’s Hyde Park on Wednesday night where demonstrations were held over the death of George Floyd.

Citing the deaths of Sarah Bland, Trayvon Martin and Stephen Lawrence, a visibly moved Boyega told protestors that he was "speaking to you from my heart".

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In his heartfelt address to a crowd of Black Lives Matter supporters he said: "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, for Mark Duggan."

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Speech in full

This is what John Boyega said at Hyde Park, in full:

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 meant something, 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 am 28 years old, born and raised in London and for time every black person understands and realises the first time you were reminded that you were black. Every black person in here remember when another person reminded you that you were black.

So none of you out there, all those other protestors on the other side protesting against what want to do, protesting against what we want to try and achieve, damn you, because this is so vital.

I need you guys to understand. I need you guys to understand. I need you to understand how painful this s**t is.

And that isn’t the case anymore. There is never a case anymore. We are going to try it today.

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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.

Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their 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 won't be an alien thought to our young ones.

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 organised as possible. Because you know what guys, they want us to mess up.

They want us to be disorganised, but not today. Not today. Not today. This message is specifically for black men. Black men.

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 demonise our own.

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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.

We can’t be trust no more. We have to be better. You don’t understand. I’m speaking to you from my heart.

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.

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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 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 have people in the film industry said about the speech?

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill is one of many in the Hollywood community who have shown support for Boyega.

He tweeted: "Never been more proud of you, John."

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The official Star Wars account also showed support for Boyega, tweeting a message that read; "Lucasfilm stands with John Boyega and his message that 'now is the time. Black lives have always mattered.

"'Black lives have always been important. Black lives have always meant something'.

"The evil that is racism must stop. We will commit to being part of the change that is long overdue in the world. John Boyega, you are our hero."

Filmmaker Matthew A Cherry quote tweeted Boyega voicing concerns about how speaking out might harm his career and said: "I would work with John Boyega and I urge other Non-Black creators to affirm that they have his back as well."

Director Olivia Wilde was among those to respond, saying: "Absolutely. I would be honoured to work with @JohnBoyega and can only hope to have the chance. We've got your back, John. Don't hold back."

Jordan Peele, the Oscar-winning director of Get Out, said: "We got you, John."