Yara Shahidi won the YoungStars Award at the 2017 BET Awards on Sunday night and delivered a speech that showed exactly why she was so deserving of the honor.
The 17-year-old “Black-ish” star expressed gratitude for her peer group, fans and family before taking a moment to acknowledge the late Tamir Rice, who would have turned 15 years old on Sunday. Rice, who was killed in 2015 during a fatal police encounter in Cleveland, is one of many young black men who have died in police shootings. Shahidi recognized him onstage before thousands of audience members and viewers at home.
“Today is Tamir Rice’s birthday, and so amidst this celebration, I’d love to honor his life,” Shahidi said. She also acknowledged BET “for celebrating our culture so beautifully when it isn’t celebrated everywhere else as it should be.”
Shahidi, who is heading to Harvard University next fall, has been outspoken about the injustices black people face and has consistently used her voice and platform to raise awareness around police brutality and racism in America.
“Thank you for supporting blackness and our contributions to society,” she said to the crowd at the BET Awards. “This is so appreciated and so necessary for my generation to see.”
Watch her full acceptance speech above.