Jesse Williams criticized for using Emmett Till memes to announce new movie


Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams was criticized on Monday for tweeting images based on Colin Kaepernick’s Nike ad to promote his new film Till.

Williams announced on Monday afternoon that he will be directing the film, which centers around the events following Emmett Till’s death. Till was lynched in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman in 1955. His death made national news, revealing the prevailing racism of the Jim Crow area to the northern states. His mother, Mamie Till, famously had her son buried in a glass-topped casket to show the world what was done to her son.

On Monday, Williams tweeted two now-deleted images of the mourning mother at Emmett Till’s funeral. The black and white photos were overlaid with the campaign slogan from Kaepernick’s famous Nike ad.

Twitter users felt the images disrespectfully evoked memes based on the Kaepernick campaign and that the accompanying quote was an inappropriate way to represent a Black mother’s grief.

Williams’ decision to post the images led people to question his ability to produce a movie about Till.

Criticism of the images opened the door to backlash regarding Williams’s race (he’s biracial) and divorce last year from his wife, who is Black. Rumors circulated at the time that Williams left his wife for a white woman.

Williams deleted the tweets but did not address the backlash.

H/T Vulture

Alexis Tatum

Alexis Tatum

Alexis Tatum studies journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She's an editorial intern with the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Orange magazine and the Daily Texan.