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George Floyd’s murder catalyzed a reckoning on racial justice across the country, and with the anniversary of Floyd’s death approaching, his family members and local leaders want to mark the day with a message of hope.
Speaking at the John P. “Top” Greene Community Center in Raleigh on Saturday, Floyd’s relatives from Fayetteville and Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin designated May 25 as a Day of Enlightenment.
The gathering of relatives, elected officials and local advocates also celebrated the foundation of the George Floyd Memorial Center, which led the initiative for the designation.
Frederick Huff, program director for the center, said the effort is meant to honor Floyd and recognize the way his death has made people see the reality of police brutality and the issues facing marginalized communities, especially the Black community.
“We want to use the name George Floyd to make an influence,” said Thomas McLaurin, the center’s chief executive officer and Floyd’s cousin.
Floyd’s relatives continue to receive calls from people sending condolences for their loss, but they’ve accepted that “George isn’t coming back,” McLaurin said. But they’ve also accepted that he was chosen by “a higher authority to change the world.”
“Floyd’s family wants to change the narrative from hurt to hope,” he said.
Baldwin and Raleigh City Council member Corey Branch read a proclamation for May 25 and encouraged Raleigh residents to join the effort.
“With a Day of Enlightenment, we’ll help draw attention to the long history of racism and discrimination in our world and provide an opportunity for people in our community to stand together and embrace a hope for the future,” Branch said.
The center and initiatives on racial justice
The George Floyd Memorial Center, a nonprofit organization, plans to raise money through donations and selling merchandise to fund scholarships and job training for Black youth, in addition to hosting a Museum of Urbanistic Art.
“What about the soft skills? How you talk to someone when you’re going to interview, how to fill out your application, what about those type things? What about our literacy programs? Those are the things that we want to have an impact on,” McLaurin said.
The organization will focus its scholarship efforts on historically Black colleges and universities.
Roger Floyd, George Floyd’s uncle and the organization’s chief impact officer, said the center will be transparent with its financing.
“Because when you start dealing with individuals’ money, they want to know how this money is going to be used,” he said. “And we want to use these funds to give back, to how we can impact the lives of others.”
He said his family is supporting the initiative because they wanted “to do the will of God.”
Baldwin said the city is working with Shaw University to create a 10-point plan of action to address issues of social justice and systemic racism.
“Poverty is the cause of all of this,” she said. “And I have a favorite saying — ‘Children can’t be what they can’t see.’ If you can’t see that job or envision yourself in it, but you see the drug dealer down the street, you can’t see what you can make.”
Floyd family sings, speaks about his death
Before members of Floyd’s family and other speaker addressed the gathering, Floyd’s oldest uncle, Wendell Floyd, sang a song called “I Won’t Complain.”
“What happened with his death, there was nothing that we could really do about it,” he said.
“And in the song — we had some good days, and I’ve had some bad days. All my good days will outweigh my bad days, I won’t complain about it. Because I put it in the hands of God,” he added.
Roger Floyd said his nephew would be proud to see their initiative.
“It’s not about the Floyds. It’s not about the center,” he said. “But it’s just the canvas of the movement, of what we’re trying to accomplish. And I can’t overemphasize the fact that when you do the right thing by others, you are rewarded in return.”
The George Floyd Memorial Center will host another event on May 25.