What Happened During George Floyd’s Funeral?

Updated

The tragic death of George Floyd sent shockwaves throughout the nation and the world. Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers was a stunning reminder that the African-American community still faces injustices that we as a country must come together to address.

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Doing so will require much self-reflection. The process of moving forward will be long. In the meantime, though, many across the country came together in the wake of George Floyd’s death to mourn his loss. 

George Floyd’s funeral in particular illustrated the impact his death had on everyone from his close family members to those who’d never met him but believed his death to be a tragedy that never should have happened. This brief overview will explain how

George Floyd’s Funeral Service

Memorials and funerals for George Floyd took place in multiple cities before his eventual burial. This arrangement gave many throughout the country an opportunity to formally mourn and pay their respects.

Locations and dates

Minneapolis, MN

Although some would argue that several of the protests which George Floyd’s death sparked also served as memorial services, the first official public memorial service for George Floyd took place on June 4 at North Central University, with Rev. Al Sharpton delivering a speech.

Raeford, NC

The next memorial service for George Floyd took place on June 6 in Raeford, NC, very close to Floyd’s hometown of Fayetteville. Both family members and public officials delivered eulogies and speeches at the public event. Roy Cooper, the state’s governor, specifically encouraged everyone in attendance to ensure Floyd didn’t die in vain with the words “Some death ain’t about dying. Some death is about waking all of us up.”

Houston, TX

Houston’s The Fountain of Praise church served as the venue for George Floyd’s funeral on June 9. Although Floyd was born in Fayetteville and was living in Minneapolis when he died, he spent most of his life in Houston, making it the appropriate setting for his funeral and burial. Because so many people wanted to pay their respects and eulogize Floyd, the funeral alone (not including the burial) lasted about four hours.

Eulogies and speakers

Several family members, friends, and other noteworthy figures spoke at George Floyd’s funeral. They included:

LaTonya Floyd

George Floyd’s sister LaTonya struggled through tears to eulogize her brother, describing him as having been her “own personal Superman.”

Brooke Williams

George Floyd’s niece Brooke also spoke at his funeral. Williams did not hold back her feelings, using the opportunity to harshly criticize the officers involved in her uncle’s death. She called for overall systemic change, saying, “You shouldn’t feel this pain, no one should feel this pain.”

Williams referenced Floyd’s last words as well. “I can breathe,” she said. “As long as I can breathe, justice will be served.”

Joe Biden

Joe Biden, who was still just a presidential candidate at the time of George Floyd’s funeral, didn’t attend the ceremony, but he did offer his condolences through video.

Biden specifically focused on George Floyd’s daughter Gianna, saying, “You’re so brave. Daddy’s looking down and he’s so proud of you.” He also touched on the fact that many African-Americans wake up every day with the fear that they could easily suffer the same fate as George Floyd, asking why this must still be a reality of everyday life for so many in this country.

Rev. Al Sharpton

Like Floyd’s niece Brooke, Rev. Al Sharpton made sure no one attending George Floyd’s funeral forgot about the societal and political significance of his death. In his speech, Sharpton urged that the systemic discrimination against African-Americans that he and his peers have spent decades fighting against is still alive and must be condemned.

He also insisted that it hasn’t been properly condemned yet due to “intentional neglect” on the part of those who don’t want to admit such problems persist in this country. Sharpton said, “Until we know the price for Black life is the same as the price for white life, we're going to keep coming back to these situations over and over again.” Before ending his speech, Sharpton made a point to acknowledge the losses of Trayvon Martin’s mother and Ahmaud Arbery’s father as well.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner, Houston’s mayor, was another speaker at George Floyd’s funeral. Along with offering his condolences, Turner promised to use the power of his office to enact immediate reforms within his city’s police department, hopefully making what happened in Minneapolis less likely to occur in Houston.

Philonise Floyd

George Floyd’s brother Philonise poignantly emphasized how the circumstances of his death were all too familiar to many African-Americans, saying, “All I think about is when he was yelling for Momma. All mommas felt that.”

Kathleen McGee

George Floyd’s aunt also touched on the way his death must have affected many mothers of young African-American men. She said, “I just want to thank all of the mothers who are here today. Just hug them and love them because we don’t know when the time will come.”

Attendees

Along with family members, friends, and neighbors, George Floyd’s funeral attracted such guests as Rep. Al Green, Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum, and various other figures from both politics and pop culture. Their presence at the funeral of a man they’d never met highlighted the degree to which George Floyd’s death shocked a nation.

Cost

The final moments of George Floyd’s life robbed him of his basic human dignity. While no one can turn back time and undo what happened to George Floyd, those who organized his funeral sought to restore his dignity to some degree with a gold-plated Promethean casket.

Promethean caskets are very rare. Other figures buried in them include James Brown and Aretha Franklin. By burying George Floyd in such a casket, his funeral planners elevated his status accordingly.

Promethean caskets are rare in large part because of how expensive they are, usually costing tens of thousands of dollars. George Floyd’s typically costs between $25,000 and $30,000.

Luckily, boxer Floyd Mayweather raised $13 million for George Floyd’s funeral through a crowdsourcing campaign. According to Lenard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, this ensured all funeral costs were covered.

Montage

At one point in the funeral, attendees watched a video montage showing scenes from the numerous protests that took place across the country after George Floyd’s death. As the montage played, Houston musical artist Dray Tate sang “A Change is Going to Come,” while acclaimed speed-painter Ange Hillz sketched a large portrait of Floyd.

Music also came in the form of almost joyous takes on “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” and “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” Rev. Remus Wright and co-pastor Mia Wright had said that, rather than being a thoroughly somber event, George Floyd’s funeral should be a “foot-stomping, toe-tapping, shouting, hallelujah, praising God” occasion. Mia Wright expressed her hope that the ceremony would be “a moment by which God has gathered people all around the world to connect us around the life of the brother George Perry Floyd.”

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George Floyd’s Burial and Resting Place

George Floyd’s burial site is fast-becoming a famous grave among those who wish to pay their respects to the victims of injustice. Its location is also emotionally-resonant because of who George Floyd rests next to.

Cemetery location

George Floyd’s burial took place at Houston Memorial Gardens in Pearland, TX, immediately after his funeral. As the funeral procession transported his body to the cemetery, thousands of onlookers watched. For the last mile of the trip from the church to the cemetery, a horse-drawn carriage transported George Floyd’s body.

Grave details

George Floyd’s grave is directly next to the grave of the mother he cried out for as he was dying. The inscription on his headstone simply reads “Rest In Power.” Because these words have become a common refrain in many instances when tragedies such as the death of George Floyd occur, this may likely become one of the nation’s most famous headstone sayings over time.

George Floyd’s Funeral: A Call to Action

George Floyd’s funeral was more than just a way for family members and friends to look back in loving memory on his life. For many, it was also a call to honor his memory by making sure such tragedies don’t happen again.


Sources

  1. Booker, Brakkton. “Family Of George Floyd, Whose Death Sparked Protests, Says Final Goodbye.” NPR, NPR, 9 June 2020, www.npr.org/2020/06/09/870808615/george-floyd-whose-death-ignited-a-social-justice-movement-to-be-buried-in-houst
  2. Burke, Minnyvonne. “Don't let George Floyd's death 'be in vain,' speakers say at N. Carolina memorial service.” NBC News, NBC Universal, 6 June 2020, www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/george-floyd-memorial-north-carolina-sheriff-s-officers-escort-his-n1226576
  3. Jangra, Sachin. “George Floyd Casket: Cost, Open or Closed, Who Paid For Promethean Golden Coffin?” The Courier Daily, The Courier Daily, 10 June 2020, www.thecourierdaily.com/george-floyd-golden-casket-open-closed-paid/20423/
  4. Pereira, Ivan. “Family members, dignitaries honor George Floyd at funeral service in Houston.” ABC News, ABC News Internet Ventures, 9 June 2020, abcnews.go.com/US/george-floyds-final-funeral-service-burial-place-houston/story?id=71130521
  5. Yeung, Jessie and Steve George, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, and Daniella Diaz. “June 2 George Floyd Protest News.” CNN, Cable News network, 2 June 2020, edition.cnn.com/us/live-news/george-floyd-protests-06-02-20/h_fa568d91fa675b94bee640097b0300eb
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