One year later, we remember the stolen life of George Floyd, a Black man who was murdered in a senseless act of violence by Derek Chauvin, a member of the Minneapolis Police Department.
The late historian, Dr. John Hope Franklin, wrote in his forward to Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and its Legacy, that, “In some very fundamental ways, change has come slowly, sometimes almost imperceptibly. Thus, while our past is interwoven with our present, some of our past stands in stark relief, as if it were some relic held over from an earlier time.”
Today, the “relic” we hold is our collective remembrance of May 25, 2020, and the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that ended George Floyd’s life. Pinned down and unable to breathe, Floyd in his death is the visible symbol of how an oppressive, white supremacist culture steals our lives through unlawful, unjust force.
We are reminded that George Floyd lives in those of us who choose to fight fascism, white supremacy and death. In remembering him today, we remember all those lives taken through extrajudicial force — state-sancitioned murder. And we say: Enough is enough.
We are still here and still in the fight for justice and the right to exist. As we join George Floyd’s family, friends and community in remembering his death, we also honor his life — not in greatness, but in the simplicity of his humanity.
Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson
Dean, School of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities
Co-Director, Center for Racial and Social Justice