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Dr. Brian Williams Could Be the First Black Trauma Surgeon in Congress

Maina Mwaura | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Feb 23, 2024
Dr. Brian Williams Could Be the First Black Trauma Surgeon in Congress

Dr. Brian Williams Could Be the First Black Trauma Surgeon in Congress

ChristianHeadlines proudly presents this interview with Dr. Williams due to the potential historical significance of his campaign. The site does not necessarily endorse the full platform of any political candidate.

Dr. Brian Williams’ entire life changed in the summer of 2016 as a trauma surgeon working in Dallas, Texas. Williams, who has spent his entire life in medicine taking care of people, saw his life take a turn when five Dallas police officers were gunned down that evening on the streets of downtown.

“On July 7th, 2016, there were peaceful protests scheduled around the country to protest the killing of Black men by police officers that had taken place that year and summer. However, the one in Dallas became deadly. A lone sniper shot 14 police officers, killing five of them. Trying to save the lives of the police officers that night nearly broke me. It's just one of those nights where it's hard to still explain even now, but I remember I had to change my bloodied scrubs, put on clean scrubs, go into the room, and tell this officer's family about his death. And afterward, I went out into this corner part of the hospital where I've never been and just cried. That's not something I do. But there I was that night, and I think it was just a combination of everything that had happened over the past few days, over the past year, and then that feeling I should have been able to save these police officers. I began to think about, ‘What am I doing?’”

That self-reflection would lead Williams to speak out against gun violence at a press conference that had been scheduled for the doctors who had treated the police officers. Williams was not planning to attend until wife suggested he appear there.

“I think people that go through trauma understand what I'm saying: you can function every day, you can talk to people, but inside, there's turmoil going on. And that's how I felt. And then, four days after the shooting, we had this live press conference being viewed around the world. And after that, things changed. My wife said, ‘You must go to the press conference just to be seen.’ That just says a lot about the power of us as black men, our presence, and what that means. To just be seen there and say nothing would make a difference. You know, she was saying, ‘Look, people out there are saying black men are evil, that they deserve to die.’ My wife thought they needed to know that there was a black doctor that night trying to save these police officers. I did end up speaking because what was not said at the press conference just didn't sit well with me: the normal things we say after mass shootings. But we weren't talking about escalating gun violence, structural racism, the repeated police shootings.”

It was the unsaid things that would lead Williams on a journey to journal and reflect on his thoughts on what he has seen throughout the years as a doctor. It would lead him down the path to writing a book entitled The Bodies Keep Coming.

“So, there's one place I kind of put my thoughts down. I had this body of journal entries. The second thing was that, after the shooting, there was a time I went to therapy, and part of my therapy was to write a trauma narrative about the night of July 16th. And in doing so, that unlocked a whole lot of things. And then, from that, it grew into this book. The book is meant to be a call to action for the reader. The book is not about me. I am just the character you're following through this world. But the end of the book is a call to action for you. When I finished the book, my call to action was like, ‘Oh, I want to run for Congress.’ That was not the intent as I was writing the book. But once I was done and went through all that self-reflection and finished, I'm like, ‘I have to run for Congress because that is where big things can happen at the structural level.’ That is, you can work across generations. There are only 19 doctors in Congress, but there's never been a trauma surgeon in Congress, and there's never been a black doctor with voting privileges in Congress.”

Williams knew he had to run for Congress not just to make history but also to address the issues that he finds himself concerned about. Williams is running to fill the seat of Colin Allred, who is running for Senate. When asked why he was deciding to run, Williams said he wanted the voters to have the access that they needed.

“I served as a health policy advisor for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and for Senator Chris Murphy. So, I had a chance to be part of that process and roll up my sleeves and help craft legislation and learn how it gets to the process to get to the floor for a vote. What I learned from that was very inspiring because you see that you can do big things at the federal level when you have the right leaders there committed to doing the right things. And that's what I want to do: to take my record of service as a veteran and then as a doctor and as someone who's been on the hill as an advisor, and not just be a member of Congress. I can submit the bill, and I can argue on the floor and tell stories about my patients that I've seen.”

When Williams looks back at the journey he has been on for the last several years, he has also been on a faith journey of his own and knows that he has a long road ahead of him and still more to learn about himself.

“I'm still on the faith journey. I’ve talked about my faith journey in the book. I walked away from religion in my teenage years. As a young black man having white people telling me about how to get redemption, that didn’t sit well with me. It didn’t seem like that was part of my story. But as I've gotten older, you know, marriage, a child, and the events after the shooting, I'm much more comfortable accepting that if I commit to just serving the greater good, I don't have to understand everything.”

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/shapecharge



Dr. Brian Williams Could Be the First Black Trauma Surgeon in Congress