Two weeks ago, George Floyd lost his life at the hands of a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer who kept his knee on the Houston native’s neck for nearly 9 minutes while he was face down in the street in handcuffs in response to a reported counterfeit bill being passed at a local store.
After more than eight days of protests worldwide (including a primarily peaceful protest in Houston that drew more than 60,000 protestors from diverse backgrounds), the community where George Floyd was born and raised paused to pay tribute to him at a public memorial held at The Fountain of Praise Church in southwest Houston.
A sense of calm and peace hung over the Houston church as thousands stood in line to pay their respects and show support to Floyd’s family and loved ones. An organized caravan of buses shuttled individuals from nearby Windsor Village United Methodist Church to the site of the memorial.
Individuals were required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked on entering the church as a diverse mix of media outlets, strung out across the grounds of the church, interviewed individuals on their thoughts on Floyd’s tragic death.
Many individuals wore shirts bearing Floyd’s image imprinted with his last words “I Can’t Breathe.” Others carried signs with messages calling for racial equality and an end to police brutality.
Flora Anne Davison, a resident of Southeast Houston, has two sons and felt compelled to attend today’s memorial because she felt it could have been one of her sons.
“I felt as though George Floyd called out to me lying there with the officer’s knee on his neck. He was saying to me “do something.”
Today’s event also made her recall when Medgar and Charles Evers along with the Freedom Riders visited her hometown of Greenville, Mississipi in the early 1960s to encourage Blacks to register to vote. As a result, she marched with her parents to the county courthouse where they registered to vote.
“That march made a difference. I feel compelled to honor George Floyd and am taking on a personal mission of making sure every family member, every neighbor and every person in my sphere of influence becomes a registered and informed voter,” said Davison.
Those who attended the memorial were greeted with a sea of floral sprays in the church’s lobby before they entered the main sanctuary to pay their final respects to a man who died too young but in the process ignited a worldwide call for justice and racial equality.
A private funeral service will be held on Tuesday to honor Floyd and celebrate his life and legacy.