NEW YORK - Michael K. Williams, who was found dead inside his Brooklyn home on Monday, will always be remembered as Omar Little from "The Wire" and for his other unforgettable performances. But his deep-rooted commitment to the communities often left out of the equity equation and the great lengths he went to help others need to be remembered and acknowledged, too.
"We're changing the narrative today. It's about us. It's about community. We bigger than violence," Williams said on the mic at an anti-violence rally in Brownsville, Brooklyn, according to a video shared by the community empowerment nonprofit organization called We Build the Block, which he co-founded.
Executive Director Dana Rachlin said Williams was incredibly involved in the organization's work.
"I think it's very important for people to understand Michael was not a celebrity spokesperson — that was not his role," Rachlin said.
The group focused on reimagining policing, voter registration, and urgent needs like food and jobs.
He was at the center of it all — strategizing, motivating, using his own money, and fundraising to come up with $85,000 last summer to give 45 young people jobs.
The kids called Williams "Uncle Mike."
"There were a lot of times when we were exhausted and felt a lot of hopelessness," Rachlin told FOX 5 NY. "I was on the phone with a young person earlier today and she said, 'You know, he made us all feel hopeful all the time, like, we couldn't give up.'"
"We had emotional moments where he cried. He was expressing himself, the good, bad and ugly," Dean exclusively told me. "He was telling us his story of what he was going through."
In a podcast excerpt, Williams told everyone he loves them, especially the youth and the "good, the bad, the ugly."
Williams was open about his substance abuse issues and discussed it with Dean in the Ruff Roads podcast.
The NYPD said his death is being investigated as a possible drug overdose.
No matter what the circumstances, his example of love for all people and caring about others will have a lasting impact on all the lives he touched.