Black Luminaries, Celebs and Activists Reflect On The One Year Anniversary Of George Floyd’s Death

“Like the man himself and the size of his heart, George Floyd left behind an outsized legacy. He awakened the world to the reality that Black people in America are brutalized daily, and their lives are treated as disposable. He ignited a relentless demand for change, starting with police and spanning every other system plagued by racial injustice. And he inspired us to imagine a nation that lives up to its ideals, where Black people, finally, can breathe free.”

Attorney Benjamin Crump

A MAN FIRST: George Floyd was murdered at the hands of a deranged police officer at the young age of 46 in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2020.

Every time I see George Floyd’s face or see his name I force myself to remember him as a man first. He was not a martyr. He was a murder victim. On the anniversary of his death I want to lift up his humanity. Father, brother, uncle, lover, friend. Gone too soon. We can lionize the Movement but we have to always remember the life that was loss. 

Tarana Burke, activist, community organizer and founder of the “Me Too” Movement

Protesters crowd Hollywood Boulevard during the All Black Lives Matter solidarity march in the wake of the death of George Floyd. (Image: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“George Floyd was a loving father, a devoted brother, a caring partner and a friend, and he deserves to be remembered as those who love him remember him—someone whose smile lit up the room.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, we watched as millions of people took to the streets to say ‘enough.’ We have seen a nation awaken to the reality Black Americans live every day. Americans from all walks of life marched side by side demanding change to a system that failed George Floyd and so many others before and after him. This is not a problem that we can afford to push aside. What this moment so urgently demands is not just the right words, but bold action. Changing the reality we live in is not the responsibility of a few, but rather our collective calling.” 

Senator Cory Booker

Black Lives Matter worldwide protests against racism, police brutality and death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed while apprehended by police in Minneapolis. (Image: Sebastien Salom-Gomis/AFP via Getty Images)

“The death of George Floyd had an effect that was beyond anything I have witnessed in my lifetime. Included all ages, races and determined demonstrators beyond this America into faraway places. This was NOT a Black demonstration this was a human demonstration. It took his death to effect all industries with a conscious move toward racially diverse inclusion.”

Bethann Hardison, Diversity Advocate and Luxury Brand Consultant

Mourners gather for a vigil for George Floyd following the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial on April 20, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty on all three charges he faced in the death of Floyd. (Image: Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

“George Floyd’s murder changed the course of racial and economic justice around the world, and pulled so many new supporters and activists into this movement. For me, I saw an opportunity to activate my network, and hold companies accountable to their stated commitments to drive economic equity. As a Black small business owner, I started the Fifteen Percent Pledge because I know firsthand that Black businesses need more than lip service, and major corporations have a responsibility to use their power and resources to uplift those of us who have been historically excluded from economic growth. What started as an Instagram post is now a full-fledged non-profit organization, and we’ve partnered with 25 companies, including Macy’s, Sephora, The Gap, Bloomingdale’s and more to create over $4 billion dollars in opportunities for Black businesses. Our momentum is only growing, and we look forward to continuing our work in the fight for racial justice.”

Aurora James, Founder of Brother Vellies and The Fifteen Percent Pledge

A painted portrait of George Floyd in front of Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle. This was part of the Warriors of the Garden Peaceful Protest Against the 45th President Of the United States Donald J.Trump on his 74th birthday on June 14, 2020. (Image: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

“It was a year ago that, not only America, but the entire world woke up and witnessed the violence and abuse that the Black community has been facing for generations. The death of George Floyd sparked an uprising across the world, demanding police reform and for officials to be held accountable for their actions. If we look at the past year and the collective work that has been done to restructure systems that perpetuate racism in our nation, then you know we have a lot of work to do. If we ever want to reach racial justice in America, we need to continue to work together because it’s not just a top down effect, change needs to happen at every level. George Floyd rests in power and we will continue to say his name.”

Hannah Bronfman, Author, On-camera Personality, and FOUNDER OF HBFIT

Ceiffawn Wetherspoon attends the Say Their Names: Vigil and Memorial Service in honor of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery at the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience on June 19, 2020.
(Image: Johnny Louis/Getty Images)

“A year after the death of George Floyd, the only thing I can think about is him. He wasn’t trying to be a martyr. He wasn’t trying to be a symbol. He was a human being going to the store. He didn’t wake up with an intent to change anything. He was just George, and him being him was enough to have the state take his life. I look at a society that continues to add more names to the list of state sponsored public executions. I see politicians on Capitol Hill argue over how to best mask the symptoms, instead of how to cure the disease. I see white supremacy ever emboldened, and seeking to take its rightful place among American mainstream consciousness. Despite this, I’m hopeful. Hopeful because we are equipped to push forward, and we are doing so. I take solace in that. But unfortunately I am not inspired nor comforted when I think of George Floyd, I’m just fucking pissed off. Pissed that his actual life—his real existence, the only one you get—was turned into a legacy he never asked for. May God continue to bless his family and loved ones. “

Van Lathan, host and media personality

“We’ve heard that ‘Awareness is the greatest agent for change.’ Floyd’s legacy is one of awareness. The protests sparked by his death have caused greater awareness of systematic racism that has forced transparency and accountability in many organizations. We have a long way to go, but I see more progress with fashion and retail brands in the past year than I’ve seen since starting HFR 14 years ago. Now, I hope that we see more long term commitments.” 

Brandice N. Daniel, CEO and Founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row

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Protesters take a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd and all Black people who have been killed by police, during a demonstration outside of San Francisco City Hall on July 20, 2020 . (Image: Getty Images)
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“When you think of anniversaries, you think of moments to celebrate and commemorate. As I reflect on the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder it’s hard to use the term ‘anniversary’ because there is simply the knowledge that this should never have been his fate in the first place. However, with the realities we continue to face even after his murder, this day reminds me that the work is not complete and we must collectively share the burden of responsibility to create a new reality and that one verdict does not stop the need for demands from within our community to be heard, met, and implemented for a brighter future for all.”

Eden Bridgeman Sklenar, Chairwoman, EBONY & JET

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Graffiti bearing the name of George Floyd is seen in Cal Anderson Park, Seattle, in the area known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) on June 24, 2020.
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

“George Floyd’s murder was a watershed moment for all of humanity. I still remember that video of little Gianna, sitting on the shoulders of her father’s friend, proudly stating, ‘Daddy changed the world!’ A year later—with the historical conviction of his killer, disgraced police officer Derek Chauvin and the worldwide protests that ensued—Floyd’s daughter certainly spoke truth into action. We still have a long way to go, but that countless folks are finally having the kinds of conversations around race that build empathy and understanding is a boundless victory. Today we honor Floyd’s legacy. But I will refrain from celebrating until the horrific police violence that resulted in his tragic murder and that of countless Black bodies is eliminated from the fabric of our existence.”

Marielle Bobo, Editor-In-Chief and SVP, Programming, EBONY Media

People protest against racism and police brutality in Paris on June 6, 2020, as part of ‘Black Lives Matter’ worldwide protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd. (Image: Jerome Gilles/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“When George Floyd was pinned to the ground under the knee of Derek Chauvin, gasping for air and pleading for his life, the nation and the world saw the brutality, inhumanity and injustice that far too many of us have endured for years. His gruesome death galvanized demonstrations demanding police reform and accountability—issues that I have worked on for decades. One year later, we await the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to become law so that no other family suffers from the anguish and devastation that Floyd’s loved ones have experienced this past year. In Floyd’s honor, in the family’s honor and in honor of all those we have lost to police brutality and racism, we will not rest until we see national reform.” 

Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder, National Action Network

A man walks past a graffiti on a wall depicting a portrait of George Floyd at Mauer Park on June 26, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Image: Peng Dawei/China News Service via Getty Images)

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