As the nation honored the life of George Floyd with memorial events and marches, Floyd’s family and supporters said they have been encouraged by the progress made in the year since he was killed by a Minneapolis police officer.
From Dallas to Washington, DC, to Minneapolis, Floyd’s name is echoing across the country in recognition of a man who has become a symbol in the fight for racial equality and police reform.
“Today I just felt a day of relief,” Floyd’s aunt Angela Harrelson told CNN. “The support that we have received, the love to get to this day. I am just overwhelmed with joy and hope and I feel like change is here.”
Several members of Floyd’s family, including Floyd’s daughter Gianna; Gianna’s mother, Roxie Washington; Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd; and his brother Philonise Floyd, were in Washington today to meet with President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers.
The family meeting with Biden at 1 p.m. will be private so the President can have a “real conversation and preserve that with the family,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“He has a genuine relationship with them, and the courage and grace of this family and especially his daughter Gianna Floyd, has really stuck with the President …” Psaki said. “So, he’s eager to listen to their perspectives and hear what they have to say.”
The family comes as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act remains stalled in the Senate, despite Biden setting an initial goal of having the legislation passed by Tuesday. Psaki said Friday that Biden wants the bill on his desk “as quickly as possible.”
The bill includes provisions to set up a national registry of police misconduct, a ban on racial and religious profiling by law enforcement and an overhaul of qualified immunity for police officers.
The NAACP kicked off Tuesday by holding a moment of silence for Floyd at 9:29 a.m. on its Facebook page to mark the 9 minutes and 29 seconds Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.
Shareeduh Tate, Floyd’s cousin and president of the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, told CNN on Tuesday that the family feels uplifted by the racial reckoning, the conviction of Chauvin, and the federal indictment of the Chauvin and the other three officers involved in Floyd’s death.
Tate said that while she had wanted to see the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed by today, the family would rather wait until Congress can pass a substantive bill that includes every provision.
“From my perspective when we lost him it was a very personal thing for us initially and we had no idea the kind of impact it would have,” Tate told CNN’s Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto.
“It was almost immediately seeing the fact that people were able to have conversations across diverse lines, people were able to talk about things that we never had a conversation about before.”
Members of Floyd’s family are also expected to attend memorial events in Minneapolis on Tuesday, according to a family spokesman. One of those events is a “Celebration of Life” which includes a day of games, food, inflatable attractions for youth and special performances by Grammy Award-winning artists and local talent.
BET will also pay homage to Floyd, airing special programming that kicks off Tuesday with “Bars and Ballads for George Floyd,” featuring Jon Batiste, Nas, former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, singer and activist Anthony Hamilton and Color of Change President Rashad Robinson.
Several other events honoring Floyd have been held in recent days. Bridgett Floyd spoke during a rally Sunday in Minneapolis where she vowed to be a voice for George Floyd and advocate for change. She was joined by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton.
“It has been a long year. It has been a painful year,” Bridgett Floyd told the crowd on Sunday. “It has been very frustrating for me and my family. For your life to change within a blink of an eye. I still don’t know why.”
The George Floyd Memorial Foundation is also asking supporters to honor the anniversary of Floyd’s death by joining its mission of ending systemic violence against Black Americans.
The foundation has urged supporters to use Tuesday to call their elected officials — particularly their senators — and demand that they pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act; register to vote; help promote the foundation’s work on social media and donate to the foundation’s programs that support the Black community.