The praise Jesse Williams received for signing on to direct a movie about the lynching of African-American teen Emmett Till, quickly turned to criticism when the actor used memes from Colin Kaepernick’s Nike campaign to promote the film.
The upcoming movie titled Till will focus on Mamie Till-Mobley’s search for justice after her 14-year-old son was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman.
Williams, who’s best known for playing Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, will make his directorial debut with the film.
The actor took to social media Monday to bring attention to the movie, but instead sparked widespread criticism.
Fans were furious Williams placed the slogan for Nike’s Just Do It campaign over historic photos of Emmett and his mother.
One picture showed a distraught Mamie standing over her son’s casket. Another was of Mamie and Emmett posing together as the two smiled.
The photos were superimposed with a quote from Kaepernick’s Just Do It campaign.
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” the memes read along with the tease, “TiLL Coming Soon.”
While the slogan may have worked to sell sneakers, Twitter users slammed Williams for using it to promote a movie about a murdered 14-year-old.
“Jesse Williams posted that photo of Mamie Till with the Kaepernick quote like she made a choice to sacrifice her son to uh… murder,” one person tweeted.
Another added: “a nike meme of emmett till’s mother to promote a movie????? i hate jesse williams. wow.”
A third said: “Jesse Williams just made Emmett Till into a Nike meme. Bruh…..”
After he was taken to task for what many considered “distasteful and disrespectful” social media posts, Williams deleted the memes from his Twitter feed.
You can read more reactions to Williams’ posts below.
Jesse Williams posted that photo of Mamie Till with the Kaepernick quote like she made a choice to sacrifice her son to uh… murder.
Let's think about things before we slap a meme over it.
— Happenstance the Rapper (@BeezHunny) September 24, 2018
So Jesse Williams is making a Emmett Till movie? Interesting.
Then makes a Kaepernick-Nike meme to promote it.. Wrong usage. One step forward, two steps back
— RD2 (@iLivebyit) September 24, 2018
Jesse Williams just made Emmett Till into a Nike meme. Bruh…..
— I tweet (@c__suave) September 24, 2018
a nike meme of emmett till's mother to promote a movie????? i hate jesse williams. wow.
— I'M MALCOLM X. (@itssnaz_) September 24, 2018
>Jesse Williams puts uses Kaepernick Nike meme over pictures of Emmitt TIll's mom Mamie announcing the movie he's making about her.
Okay, can we get someone else to make a movie on Mamie Till like we had multiple movies on Steve Jobs?
Because we gotta put a check on that fool…
— Kevin D. Grüssing (Pronounced Grew-Sing) (@KevDGrussing) September 24, 2018
Y’all really gotta be more careful with the use of Black historical subjects on social media (memes, gifs, references). Jesse Williams’ whole ad campaign on the Till movie is distasteful and disrespectful. It makes me wonder what the movie will be like #BlkTwitterstorians
— Jasmin H (@jhsting32) September 24, 2018