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George Floyd’s Family Members Speak about Black Lives Matter at VIA

Najma El

The death of George Floyd shook America during the height of COVID-19 quarantine. He died May 25, 2020, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Last week members of his family spoke to the Manchester community via Zoom.

George’s aunt Angela Harrison and her brother Selwyn M. Jones spoke at the “Black Lives and the Legacy of George Floyd: A Conversation” VIA, led by Princeton student and activist Nyle Fort. Harrison has been serving this country for over 45 years, spending 15 in the military and 30 as a registered nurse. Selwyn is an entrepreneur and athlete. They are now speakers and activists in the fight for Black lives.

“Perry” (his family used a childhood nickname for George) moved with his mother and two sisters to live with his aunt Angela, to live in a shack and work on the land. “One thing about it, we had a lot of love in that family,” Harrison said. "We didn’t even know we was poor."

“He was just a cute, cute little boy, never did wear a shirt, always under his mom,” she continued. “Just as cute as he can be; we thought he was going to be the next comedian like Flip Wilson.”

Jones also had warm memories of his nephew. “Perry was just a jovial person, you know?” he said. “He liked to laugh; he liked to joke." 

“It doesn’t feel like I’m in a dream or anything, it just feels like I’m not able to see any of my favorite people on Christmas or Thanksgiving,” he continued. “I will never forget my birthday present, cause my birthday is on the 22nd. I have a message on my phone still that says “Unc, happy birthday.” I didn’t check it until the 27th. He got murdered on the 25th.”

The video of Floyd’s death, 8 minutes and 46 seconds long, is available on media and is how his aunt and uncle officially found out about his death. Harrison was called by a reporter, as well as her sister, and asked to make a statement. She remembers yelling “Perry!” as she saw him on the ground gasping for air.

Jones recalls walking in his living room for breakfast. “My mother-in-law was standing at the door and my wife was down in the chair looking at me like someone stole something from them,” he said It was then that he saw Floyd on the TV lying on the ground. “Hollering, begging, screaming, yelling . . . then it stops,” Jones said.

“This is my purpose,” he continued. “We’ve gotta have his back,” Jones said, referring to his efforts in the movement to support Black lives.