Dr. Brian H. Williams: Running to Be the First Black Doctor in Congress

Dr. Brian H. Williams is a testament to how one night can change the course of your life. On the fateful night of July 7, 2016, Dr. Williams found himself on duty as a trauma surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas during a protest aimed at addressing the deaths of two Black men shot by police in different American cities. The demonstration took a tragic turn when a sniper opened fire, resulting in the injury of 14 officers and two innocent people. 

As the lone Black surgeon on the trauma team, Dr. Williams worked valiantly to save the officers, but tragically lost five lives, three of whom were under his care. He delivered the devastating news to their grief-stricken families.

Dr. Williams’ steadfast commitment to his principles was again showcased during the subsequent press conference, four days after the incident. Despite his private nature and avoidance of the spotlight, he acceded to his wife’s urging to attend and emphasize the importance of unity and healing during trying times. “The country needs to see there was a Black surgeon there that night trying to save those white officers,” his wife advised.

In his forthcoming book, “The Bodies Keep Coming: Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon on Racism, Violence, and How We Heal,” Dr. Williams delves into his unique perspective on racism, violence, and the journey towards healing. Through his work and advocacy, he notes “that while the challenges are immense, hope and healing are attainable when we confront the realities of our history and work collectively towards a brighter future.”


Dr. Williams is committed to making a difference not only for patients, but wants to be a “positive contributor to social transformation.” That’s why he announced in May that he’s running for an open seat in Congress to represent the 32nd district encompassing the suburban area of northeastern Dallas. Dr. Williams is hoping to replace Black Congressman Colin Allred, who is running against Republican Senator Ted Cruz in the 2024 election.  

Dr. Williams came to medicine and politics after graduating from the Air Force Academy with a degree in aeronautical engineering. At the age of 28, he transitioned to the medical field and earned his medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine. He completed his general surgery residency at Harvard Medical School. After finishing a fellowship in trauma surgery and surgical critical care at Emory University in Atlanta, Dr. Williams with his wife, Kathianne Sellers Williams, and their daughter moved to Dallas in 2010.

In the wake of the shooting, Dr. Williams devoted two years to addressing health disparities within the Dallas community, leading an overhaul of the city’s Citizens Police Review Board. His dedication extended to academia, where he joined the University of Chicago Medicine as a professor of trauma and acute care surgery and opened the first trauma center in Chicago’s southside – an area of extreme gun violence. He faced yet another crisis when the COVID-19 virus overwhelmed hospitals, working tirelessly to keep his trauma team safe while providing care to those in desperate need during the pandemic.

Dr. Williams earned a prestigious fellowship with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and worked alongside U.S. Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The fellowship coincided with their efforts to enact the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a legislative response to the tragic mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, Texas and many other cities infected by gun violence. The act bolstered background checks for gun purchasers under 21, imposed restrictions on individuals in mental health crises seeking firearms, and increased funding for crisis intervention programs.

Acknowledging his personal encounters with racial bias and profiling, Dr. Williams underscores the importance of understanding and addressing systemic issues that have permeated society for centuries. He reflects, “If we understand where it’s coming from, we can use it in the service of humanity.” With a resolute determination to bring about change, he adds, “I want to be part of the solution to end gun violence, to end racial disparities in healthcare, help Americans gain better access to healthcare and address how racism is foundational in pretty much every institution we have in America.”

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