George Perry Floyd Jr. was one in a long list of Black men and women killed by police and white vigilantes. On May 25, 2020, Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.
“Mama,” Floyd shouted as he was being murdered. “Mama… I’m through!”
The mother he called for was known as “Miss Cissy.” She raised her five children, of which Floyd was the oldest, in the Cuney Homes, a public housing complex in Houston’s Third Ward. Miss Cissy cooked at a fast-food place and struggled to provide for all of her kids. Calling for his mother moved many mothers to join the protests in response to both Floyd’s death, and more broadly to police violence and racism against Black people across the United States and internationally https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/06/9856031/moms-for-george-floyd-black-lives-matter.
His life was honored through homegoing services in three states (Minnesota, North Carolina, and Texas) over the course of six days. Brooke Williams, the niece of George Floyd, spoke during the funeral service for her uncle “Perry” at The Fountain of Praise Church on June 9 in Houston. As she did—she invoked her grandmother. Brooke shared some of the following with the packed church of funeral attendees:
My uncle was a father, brother, uncle, and a cousin to many; spiritually grounded, an activist. He always moved people with his words.
The officer showed no remorse while watching my uncle’s soul leave his body. He begged and pleaded many times just for you to get up, but you just pushed harder.
Those four officers were literally on him for nine minutes and then [didn’t even] show they have a heart or soul. This is not just murder, but a hate crime.
I share happy memories with my uncle and that’s all I have … memories. I still can’t pull myself together to how he call out my grandma’s name. I believe my grandmother was right there with open arms saying, ‘Come home, baby. You shouldn’t feel this pain. No one should feel this pain.’
He always told me: “Baby girl, you’re going to go so far with that beautiful smile and that brain of yours.”
She remembered a time she was worried about how she and her grandmother would get to another uncle’s wedding and had no way to contact anyone. It was Floyd who jumped in to help.
“But here comes my uncle busting through the door like Superman,” she said. “I was young by the way, probably 10 or 11. My grandmother was also handicapped. He had this big truck we had to ride in. I was wondering how was my grandmother going to get in that truck. But he just placed her in the truck like it was light work.”
Brooke shared that she never questioned anyone’s strength but thought it was “unbelievable” how Floyd and her grandmother “broke their backs to always see their children smile and made a way when it seemed impossible.”
In wrapping up her memories, she paraphrased iconic rapper Tupac Shakur.
“America, it is time for a change. Even if it shall begin with more protest. No justice, no peace,” she said.