Celebrities, civil rights activists, and politicians gathered in Minneapolis Thursday to pay their respects to George Floyd, the black U.S. citizen whose death at the hands of a white police officer sparked protests across the U.S. and in several cities around the world against racial injustice.
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The memorial at the Frank J Lindquist sanctuary at North Central University was the first service to be held in the next days in the three communities where Floyd was born, grew up, and died.
The Rev Jesse Jackson prayed for several moments over Floyd’s casket. Others followed his lead, including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Others in attendance included U.S. Reps Ilhan Omar and Ayana Pressley; rappers TI, Ludacris, and Tyrese Gibson; comedians Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish among others.
After the first service, Floyd’s body will go to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born, for a two-hour public viewing and private service Saturday for the family.
A public viewing will finally be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life.
Floyd’s final journey was designed with intention, according to Rev Al Sharpton who was among those who spoke Thursday. Floyd who left Houston for Minneapolis in 2014 in search of a job and a new life, will retrace that path.
“They collectively said we need to make the first memorial statement from the city he chose to go to make a living, that ended his life,” Sharpton said.
The size of Floyd’s memorial reflects the need to recognize the widespread grief his death has caused, said an expert on grief and assistant professor at the University of Missouri, Tashel Bordere.
But “grief goes far beyond the funeral; healing goes far beyond the funeral. Justice is experienced when people feel safe in their communities and in their lives,” she added.