Feb 14, 2022 | Atlanta, GA
Philonise Floyd, activist and brother of the late George Floyd, spoke about being Black in America and how we all can impact the social and racial justice movements at Georgia Tech’s 2022 Black History Month Lecture on Feb 9.
With the second anniversary of his brother’s murder coming later this year, Floyd spoke with S. Gordon Moore, Jr., executive director of the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, and Kemuel Russell, president of the African American Student Union, about the ways his life has changed in the past two years, and how we can use the momentum created in that time to continue having conversations about race in America.
“If they hadn’t started recording that video, we wouldn’t be here today,” Floyd said of the 9-minute video showing Derek Chauvin kneeling on George’s neck. “That video has over 5 billion views; it’s not something they could just sweep under the rug. He talked to my brother as he murdered him, and the world watched.”
The day after George’s funeral, Floyd flew to Washington, D.C. to speak before Congress in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which thrust him into the limelight in a way he never imagined.
“It was tough,” Floyd reflected. “I didn’t know that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to really grieve with my family, but I knew that this was bigger than me. I knew that if I didn’t want my brother to become another hashtag, I had to step up and do something.”
Floyd acknowledged the progress that we’ve made since his brother’s murder, stating that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud of the movement sparked by George’s murder.
“In his ‘I Have a Dream Speech,’ Dr. King said that he wanted little Black boys and girls to be able to join hands with little white boys and girls as brothers and sisters, and everywhere you looked, that’s what you saw,” Floyd said. “When you looked at the marches happening that summer, it wasn’t just Black people taking a stand; white people, Hispanic people, Asian people–everyone came to the table to stand against police brutality.”
But there is still work to be done, Floyd said.
“You have to speak up and continue to do the work in order to make a difference,” Floyd said. “We have to continue to find opportunities to have healthy conversations with law enforcement and create systems that hold them accountable. From the moment that video was published, Derek Chauvin wasn’t the one on trial; George was. My brother is dead, and he’s still on trial.”
The Black History Month Lecture is sponsored by the African American Student Union, Institute Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Student Engagement and Well-Being.
Watch the recording here.