Words by Vicky Pink
Photography by Vicky Pink and Gary Hunter
George “Perry” Floyd was laid to rest on Monday, June 8, 2020 in his hometown of Houston, Texas. The private funeral service was held at The Fountain of Praise Church. George Floyd, 46, died after an officer placed his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Family members and friends said their final goodbyes before a horse-drawn carriage carried George Floyd’s body to Houston Memorial Gardens Cemetery with hundreds of people lining the streets. He was buried next to his mom.
Hundreds of people showed up to the service, but only family and invited guests could get inside. Outside, there was a mass crowd of mourners, reporters, photographers and media crews. Inside, the sanctuary was filled with family members, friends, entertainers, athletes, activists, pastors and politicians. Some of the celebrities in attendance included J.J. Watt, Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum, D.J. Reader and Al B. Sure. Retired boxing champ Floyd Mayweather covered the funeral expenses.
Dr. Remus E. Wright and Pastor Mia K. Wright delivered the life celebration salutation. Throughout the services notable gospel singers like Donieta Webb-Thomas, Rhonda McLemore, Total Praise, Kim Burrell, Dray Tate, Kathy Taylor, Cal Wayne, Michael Tolds, Nakitta Foxx and Minister Kurt Carr performed musical selections. Grammy award winning singer Ne-Yo was brought to tears while singing a rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
Several dignitaries gave remarks. Among them was a video presentation from Joe Biden who had met with the family the day before and offered his condolences. Congressman Al Green presented a commemorative flag. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said she is unable to remove Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe” from her head, but his death serves a purpose, “and that purpose was heard around the world.” Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaimed, “We honor him today because when he took his last breath, the rest of us will now be able to breathe.”
As ministerial remarks were being made, the Rev. William B. Lawson, pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston jokingly said, “I see that you all have destroyed all laws of social distancing.” Dr. Steve Wells, Sr. Pastor of South Main Baptist Church who is a white pastor told white churches, “We are not as good as we ought to be…” Next, Dr. Ralph Douglas West, Sr. Pastor/Founder of The Church Without Walls gave his remarks.
Bishop James E. Dixon, II of Community of Faith Baptist Church introduced the Eulogist. He was none other than Rev. Al Sharpton himself. Sharpton went down a list of who was at the service. “The mother of Trayvon Martin, will you stand,” he said as he went down the list of all the family members present who had lost loved ones due to the senseless murdering of black Americans. They were there in support of George Floyd and his family. Sharpton said to the family, “We’re going to be here for the long haul.” In closing, “You called for Mama,” Mr. Sharpton said, “We’re going to lay your body next to hers.”
In his obituary, George was described as a “Gentle Giant.” “He was a loyal and devoted son, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend who will be greatly missed. He often spoke about being world famous one day and he has managed to make that happen in his death.” George Floyd’s death re-ignited a worldwide movement against the police killings of black Americans. Those who eulogized him vowed to continue fighting for change. Say his name…George Floyd!