‘A Word by William G. Lillas’

Despite being credited for online posts that circulated through social media following the extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown in August 2014, the identity of the alleged “Black veteran” behind online has never been verified.

The writing eventually credited to “William G. Lillas” first spread thanks to the blog Political Brambles, where it was published on August 27 of that year — less than a month after Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri — accompanied by a disclaimer from the blog administrator:

I have no way of verifying this. It was sent to me by a friend of mine who I think is reliable and he admitted up front that since no name was associated with it, he could not verify it and he was also concerned that even if he could it would endanger the person who wrote it. Symptoms of the times in which we are living. So I’m putting up my Uncle Remus picture to go with it. It rings true, but I don’t know.

The alleged author explains early on that because he is Black, he can use an anti-Black slur because he understands “the true meaning of the word.” He also claims that his family used that word to describe him and that he elevated himself out of that status until he “graduated high school, went to college, did an enlistment in the Army, and got a job.” Now retired, he lists more accomplishments:

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts, a Master’s Degree in Sociology My retirement, VA disability from combat in the Korean War (I only have one leg), and part-time pay in a local college, is about $125,000 a year.

The author then uses the anti-Black slur to insult Brown and accuse him of indulging in “gangsta rap, weed, drinking, guns, and those stupid-assed low profile rims.”

“He was, like so many others, living a life that he thought he was ‘entitled’ to, just for being alive,” says the author, who also insulted Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Black boy shot and killed in Florida two years earlier. The killings of both Martin and Brown spawned separate spates of protests around the U.S. that came to be known as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. The post also includes diatribes such as:

If you choose to create “baby daddy and baby mama”, and fake disabilities as an excuse for laziness to draw social security disability…… instead of husband, wife, family, job, mortgage, it’s YOUR FAULT, not white folks. And there are a lot of proud black Americans that will tell you the same, as I AM ONE OF THEM!!!

In short, the lengthy post is a collection of anti-Black talking points that ends with a confession that the author is fatally ill:

I will not be around long. While my mind is still sharp, and my aim is still good, my body is eating away with cancer. It started in the prostate, and is spreading rapidly. After I die, I have asked my children to publish my writings, and include my name. Although I am not expecting any miracles, I can only hope that American will stop blaming color, start blaming criminals, and see people for what they really are. We have too many countries that want us dead. We should not be fighting each other.

Later that year, the post spread again on social media as “copypasta” under the title “A Word By William G. Lillas.” This version adds the detail that “Lillas” was 83 years old.

However, no obituary or death notice is available online listing someone by this name and connecting him to the “veteran” post.

Update 11/10/2021, 2:14pm: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here.