Jesse Williams BET Speech Was Cool And All But…
Jesse Williams (born August 5, 1981) is an American actor, model, and activist, best known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC Television series Grey’s Anatomy. He also appears in the 2013 film Lee Daniels’ The Butler as real life civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson. Previous roles include Holden in The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Officer Eddie Quinlan in Brooklyn’s Finest (2009) and as Leo, Lena’s boyfriend, in the film sequel The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008).
Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Johanna Chase, a professional potter, and Reginald Williams. Williams has stated that his mother is Swedish, while his father is African American and some Seminole descent from Georgia. He has two younger brothers who specialize in visual arts. Williams graduated from Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1998. After high school, his parents each began teaching in the public school system, while his mother maintained her work in pottery.
Williams graduated from Temple University with a double major in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts. Following in the footsteps of his parents, he taught high school in the Philadelphia public school system for six years, where he used his degree earned at Temple to teach American Studies, African Studies, and English.
Williams is the youngest member of the board of directors at The Advancement Project, a civil rights think tank and advocacy group. He is also the executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, a multifaceted media project, art exhibition, student and teacher curriculum and website, focused on the black male identity and the diversity within the demographic. He has written articles for CNN and The Huffington Post, and has been a guest on Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room.
In October 2014, as part of Ferguson October, Williams joined thousands in Ferguson, Missouri, to protest the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. In June 2016, he won the BET humanitarian award, delivering a speech highlighting racial injustice, police brutality, and cultural appropriation.