The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last week has sparked anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests across both the United States and internationally. In London yesterday, Star Wars actor John Boyega took part in demonstrations throughout the capital, delivering a stirring speech that Lucasfilm has now publicly expressed support for.
“Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important, we have always meant something, we have always succeeded regardless,” Boyega opened, addressing gathered protesters at Hyde Park in London, England, yesterday afternoon.
“Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process,” the actor continued. “We don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved. We don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved. But today, we’re gonna make sure that that won’t be an alien thought to our loved ones...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.”
You can watch the full speech below.
After Boyega’s words made waves online, in an unprecedented move, Lucasfilm made a public statement clearly supporting Boyega’s comments, linking to his speech in full alongside a message of solidarity.
“The evil that is racism must stop,” the message read in part, and was later also posted to the official Star Wars website. “We will commit to being part of the change that is long overdue in the world.”
Boyega prefaced much of what he said in Hyde Park expressing a fear that his frank words would cost him future opportunities in Hollywood as an actor, before equally frankly declaring “Fuck that,” and carrying on. But as his speech went viral across social media yesterday, directors and other creatives took the time to publicly declare they would help to ensure that Boyega would not lose out on projects for the act of speaking out against racial injustice.
Beyond amplifying Boyega’s speech and its statement of commitment, however, Lucasfilm specifically has yet to announce any financial commitments in support of black causes that Boyega spoke about while protesting in London yesterday, or plans to diversify the creatives behind or in front of the camera on future projects.
It also marks the first time that Lucasfilm has publicly spoken out in support of Boyega in such a manner after the actor has weathered repeated incidents of targeted racism and harassment from Star Wars fans since he was first cast as Finn in The Force Awakens. The company likewise stayed quiet when racist fans also targeted actress Kelly Marie Tran for her role in The Last Jedi as Rose Tico, a role that went on to be heavily diminished in The Rise of Skywalker.
Its social media post sharing Boyega’s speech on the official Star Wars Twitter account was the first since it posted the same statement shared across multiple Disney-affiliated social media accounts Sunday evening, pledging support to black colleagues and the black community. Lucasfilm’s parent company, the Walt Disney Company, followed up a day later with announcement pledging $5 million “to support nonprofit organizations that advance social justice,” $2 million of which is going to the NAACP.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, starring John Boyega, has grossed $1.074 billion internationally since its premiere in December 2019.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.
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