On Thursday, Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple, published a poem, “Here It Is” on her website inspired by Jesse Williams’s impassioned Humanitarian Award speech at the 2016 BET Awards.
Walker fondly offers “three deep bows to a beautiful son.” And just as Williams took racism to task for “burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil,” Walker, too, refuses to let blackness be defined as that which whiteness discards:
Try to think bigger than you ever have
or had courage enough to do:
that blackness is not where whiteness
wanders off to die: but that it is like the dark matter
between stars and galaxies in
holds it all
Over the past two years, Williams has become a formidable activist both on and off screen. He met, marched, and organized with activists in Ferguson, Missouri, following the extrajudicial killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. More recently, he was the executive producer of Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement, a documentary chronicling the birth of the black millennial social justice movement, which premiered in May on BET.
BET’s Humanitarian Award was a recognition of his work, which he credits not just to activists and organizers in general who are overlooked, but also to black women, like Walker, without whom Black Lives Matter would not exist.
You can read Walker’s full poem here.