Meet Jesse Williams’ Parents Who Inspired His Activism
We all know Jesse Williams for his iconic role as Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey's Anatomy, but did you know that the doctor is a real-life social rights activist who hails from a family of educators?
Here are some insights into the family life of the Chicago-born actor.
Jesse Williams was the 2016 BET Humanitarian awardee for his excellent activism efforts.
When he's not playing Jackson Avery at Seattle Grace hospital, Williams is on the board of directors of a civil rights organization, Advancement Project, an organization that works towards protecting voting rights and helping to end the school-to-prison pipeline.
He serves as one of the executive producers of Question Bridge, which is a project that focuses on expressing the experiences of black men in the US on a grander scale.
Williams told The Guardian that, through the organization, he wants to inform everybody that black men are not "the boogeyman."
Jesse Williams Was Born into the Family of Activists
Williams credits his parents for sparking his interest in social activism.
The actor has been open about his parents' involvement in the social justice movement when he was growing up in suburban Chicago.
Williams was born to a white mother and a black father on August 5, 1980.
After his family moved to Massachusetts from Chicago, Williams attended a white private school. As a biracial kid, he saw a transition from being one of the whitest to being one of the darkest amongst his friends.
The actor recalled a memory from when he was 12-years-old. His friend's mother had made racist comments about a black person and upon seeing Williams nonchalantly told him how great he was because he wasn't "black enough." This had broken his heart.
In high school, the activist became the co-president of his school's black student union, where he highlighted his experiences as a biracial individual.
"I know how white people talk about black people. I know how black people talk about white folks. I know I am there and everyone speaks honestly around me," he said during his conversation with The Guardian.
Jesse Williams Worked as a Teacher at a High School
Both of Williams' parents paid their rent by working as teachers in public schools.
Williams graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia, after which he followed his parents' footsteps to become a high school teacher.
His love for history, which he inherited from his father, led him to teach English, American Studies, African Studies to high school students for six years. In addition, he sometimes taught kindergarten and seventh-grade kids.
"I loved being a teacher. It's the best thing I have ever done," he expressed. "My favorite job ever. I miss it every day."
Jesse William’s Sibling Is Also a Teacher
The Butler actor has two younger siblings who both specialize in visual artists and are based in Brooklyn, New York City.
His brother, Matt Williams, followed his parents into teaching and is currently working as a part-time Adjunct Professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, teaching in the Illustration Department.