Tessa Thompson offered a moving meditation on the life and legacy of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home by police officers in Louisville, KY, on March 13. Tessa was one of many public figures to participate in the Advancement Project's virtual #SayHerName town hall on Tuesday.
The actress shared a love letter in praise of Breonna, which eulogized her joyful spirit and "Black girl glory." The letter also called on viewers to continually place Black women, trans women and men, and gender nonconforming people at the center of the fight against police brutality and racial injustice. The letter begins at 01:01:43 in the video above, and it's also been transcribed in its entirety ahead. To demand justice for Breonna, sign the petition calling for the officers to be charged and visit the #BirthdayForBreonna campaign site for additional action items.
"'All you can do every day is wake, pray, and slay.' I read that that was Breonna's motto, that that was living the Bre way. I want so badly to write a love letter to you, Breonna Taylor. Your friends called you Bre, Boss Lady, Breezy, Nonna. To the nation, however, your name has become a cry — a cry for justice — but justice is not an afterthought. Real justice is life.
I set out to write a love letter, but I hate that your name is now emblematic of a breaking point in a history of invisibility. I remind myself sometimes in my rage to smile, because your family said you always did. I set out to write a love letter to you, but one expression of love is truth and here is a most urgent one: Black women cannot be an afterthought in this fight. We are the fight. Black trans women and men and those who are non-gender conforming must not be an afterthought in this fight. They are the fight. Those who live in the intersections of oppression must be our road map in how to end it.
When I forget to smile, I look at a picture of you, Bre. I think first of one in particular: You're standing in front of the city seal, you're holding flowers. There you are in all of your essential worker glory. But then I remember that when you were just another Black body in bed with another Black body without your uniform, your Blackness made you disposable in the eyes of those men with impunity, but not to us. I like to look most at images of you in your Black girl glory, with your sisters and your mother and your friends. Those make me smile most. Black women have always most essential to this nation. You were always and forever will be so essential, Bre.
So, every day now we, baby girl, we wake for you. We stay woke. We commit to opening the eyes of the nation and the globe. We pray for you. Protest and policy become our new form of prayer, and we slay for you. We slay every day a system of oppression that took you away, Breonna Taylor, and we will never stop saying your name. We love you."