Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Actor in Several Spike Lee Films, Killed in Atlanta Director Says

by Matthew Wilson
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Frequent Spike Lee collaborator Thomas Jefferson Byrd has died. Lee announced that someone murdered Byrd last night in Atlanta, Georgia. He was 79-years-old.

Lee did not reveal the details on Byrd’s death or cause of death beside murder. The director offered his condolences to Byrd’s family, listing the movies Byrd appeared in.

“Time is my guy, here below you see him as the frightening character Errol Barnes in CLOCKERS,” Lee wrote in the Instagram post. “Brother Byrd also did his thang in my joints CHI-RAQ, SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS, RED HOOK SUMMER, BAMBOOZLED, HE GOT GAME, GET ON THE BUS, GIRL 6 and CLOCKERS. May we all wish condolences and blessings to his family. Rest in peace Brother Byrd.”

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Comedian Jay Washington honors Thomas Jefferson Byrd

Lee later posted a video from his film 1995 Clockers that introduced Byrd’s character Errol Barnes. Comedian Jay Washington shared a tribute to the actor’s memory on Twitter. Washington and Byrd worked together on 2015’s Chi-Raq, which Lee produced and directed. Washington included a photo of him with Byrd and Lee on the movie’s set.

“Rest In Peace to the legendary Thomas Jefferson Byrd seen here with me and the iconic Spike Lee,” he wrote. “I had the honor of working with Mr. Byrd in CHI-RAQ but enjoyed much of his work SHES GOTTA HAVE IT, SET IT OFF, ‘N—as is a beautiful thing’ in BAMBOOZLED and so much more.”

According to his IMDb page, Byrd was born in 1941 in Griffin, Georgia. Byrd received a bachelor’s degree of science from Morris Brown College and later attended California Institute of the Arts, where he received a master’s degree. In addition to appearing Lee’s films, Byrd also had a passion for theatre. He appeared in productions such as “Spunk,” “Home,” “The Piano Lesson” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

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