Michael K. Williams, best known for his roles in The Wire and Lovecraft County, was found dead in his apartment on Monday. Although the cause of death has not yet been determined, it is believed that Williams may have died from a drug overdose.

The actor has long been open about the issues he faced as a black man in America with chronic addiction to drugs. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Williams was no stranger to systematic racism. His early exposure to violence and drugs was what partially ignited his fight with drugs. “Addiction doesn’t go away. It’s an everyday struggle for me, but I’m fighting,” he said.

William’s role as Omar Little in The Wire was a groundbreaking portrayal of a black, gay man. Williams also acted in a similar role as Montrose in Lovecraft County. “We are so conditioned to mask our pain as black men in America,” Williams said of his parts. “We’re not allowed to cry, we’re not allowed to be vulnerable. We’re not allowed to be soft. I hope that Montrose will at least open up a conversation for black men in America.”

Outside of acting, Williams also engaged in the conservation about the discrimination and oppression experienced by black Americans.

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