October 24, 2017
While giving her acceptance speech at the GLSEN Respect Awards, Kerry Washington inspired many as she looked to the future and called on the next generation for change.
The actress took home the Inspiration Award on Friday night at the award show centered around celebrating the work of students, educators, individuals, and corporations who have made a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ youth. Once up there, Washington delivered a passionate speech likening the current political climate to that of a "horrific dream" and a "communal nightmare."
"The flames of terror and exclusion are being ignited by some of our most powerful leaders," she continued as she called out President Trump and other current political leaders. "These people who have been entrusted with the protection of our rights, the rights of all of us, of we the people, have chosen instead to traffic in hate. We’ve gone from a White House lit in all the colors of pride, to a White House that literally preaches division and discrimination.”
Washington then shifted to focus on the future claiming that her perspective shifted when she had kids. “Children are not born to be molded and perfected by their parents. Children are born to us because we need to grow,” she shared. “You are inspiring all of us to make the changes we need to make in order for the world to be a world that is deserving of your beauty, and your power, and your possibility.”
Her speech turned into an encouragement to the next generation to be better than the last. “You are collectively helping our country to become a more perfect union, and not just for some of us, but for all of us," she continued. In light of the what the evening was celebrating, she underscored the importance of creating a society that accepts and embraces the LGBTQ community.
"By creating school environments that embrace clear inclusivity, understanding, and acceptance you not only empower LGBTQ students, you help all students," she said. "When you ensure the protection of one, you make space for all. You transform your schools into places where everyone belongs, where everyone is free to learn, and where everyone can feel loved. Through your boldness, and your bravery, you're making it so that every young person in America has the chance to love and be loved."
Washington shifted her focus back to the current generation in power admonishing them to do one thing – to not get in the way of the future. Instead, she asked them to help clear the way for the future. "So our job is not only to support them but to remind them. We must remind them. We do that by example, and we do that by encouragement. We must defend and protect their hearts and their hard work always. They are our leaders."
The actress concluded her acceptance speech by saying, "You are our truest leaders. You point us out of this nightmare, and toward that more perfect union. And with your leadership, tonight more than ever before, I know that we will get there. So we look to you, and we love you, and we are grateful."
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