George Floyd’s was remembered as a “Superman” by family members at a homegoing service punctuated by spirited praise and worship and a good dose of politics inside Fountain of Praise Church in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday.
The service, which was broadcast live on most cable networks, took place on the same day as the memorial for retired police captain David Dorn. Dorn was shot by a looter during a protest over Floyd’s death. While not covered live by news networks and the murder given very little coverage, video of Dorn’s memorial went viral on social media with an outpouring of grief over the dozens of African-Americans murdered by rioters in the last week.
“I just want to say, I’m gonna miss my brother a whole lot,” one of Floyd’s younger brothers said as he broke down before hundreds of mask-wearing mourners and politicians who came to say their final goodbyes after five days of public memorials. “I just want to say to him, I love you and I thank God for giving me my own personal Superman.”
The family described sleepless nights and tears sparked by the Memorial Day passing of 46-year-old Floyd, who begged for his life and called for his mother moments before he died with the knee of a Minneapolis police officer still pressing on his neck. Family members shared glimpses of their pain and tried to tell the world about the type of man they lost.
“My uncle was a father, brother, uncle, and a cousin to many; spiritually grounded, an activist. He always moved people with his words,” said Floyd’s niece, Brooke Williams, who promised to fight for justice for her uncle as long as she lives. “The officer showed no remorse while watching my uncle’s soul leave his body. He begged and pleaded many times just for you to get up, but you just pushed harder.”
Derek Chauvin, 43, a former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled into Floyd’s neck as he died, is now facing second-degree murder charges while three other former officers — J. Alexander Kueng, 26; Thomas Lane, 37; and Tou Thao, 34 — have been charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.
“Those four officers were literally on him for nine minutes and then [didn’t even] show they have a heart or soul. This is not just murder, but a hate crime,” Williams said as she decried racism in the United States while trying to honor her uncle.
“I share happy memories with my uncle and that’s all I have … memories. I still can’t pull myself together to how he call out my grandma’s name. I believe my grandmother was right there with open arms saying, ‘Come home, baby. You shouldn’t feel this pain. No one should feel this pain.’”
Williams shared how Floyd would pay her to scratch his head after long workdays and how he filled her mind with positive words.
“He always told me: ‘Baby girl, you’re going to go so far with that beautiful smile and that brain of yours,” Williams recalled.
She also remembered a time she was worried about how she and her grandmother would get to another uncle’s wedding and had no way to contact anyone. It was Floyd who jumped in to help.
“But here comes my uncle busting through the door like Superman,” she said. “I was young by the way, probably 10 or 11. My grandmother was also handicapped. He had this big truck we had to ride in. I was wondering how was my grandmother going to get in that truck. But he just placed her in the truck like it was light work.”
“I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my brother a lot because I couldn’t believe it at first, but I see it now. All I think about is when he was yelling for mama. And I know how mama is. She just right there. She got her hands wide open: ‘Come here, baby.’ Every mama felt that,” Philonise Floyd said.
“But when he yelled, ‘Please! Please! I can’t breathe,’ I stopped wearing ties. I don’t wanna wear a tie no more because I wanna be able to breathe. I went to memorials, no tie.”
Looking down at his brother’s casket, Philonise Floyd said he knows that if his mother was alive, she wouldn’t want to live without his brother.
“My mom, if she was here today, I honestly can say this, that she will be on that casket right now trying to get in there with him,” he said. “She’s a real mom. A real mom. She’s not gonna separate from anybody. She’s just like animals. They cling to their mom.”
Cyril White, director of To God Be The Glory Sports, said he spent many of his college summers playing basketball with Floyd and is now working to establish a George Floyd memorial sports center in Houston.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared June 9 George Perry Floyd Day while politicians including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, shared thoughts on Floyd’s death.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who recently told African-Americans “You ain’t black” if they didn’t vote for him, met with the family privately a day earlier. Biden also delivered a brief message to the family by video in which the former vice president called on Americans to use Floyd’s death to fight for racial justice. Biden is known for his own racial gaffes and disparaging remarks including towards Indian-Americans.
Al Sharpton, who eulogized Floyd, took the opportunity to tell the NFL to give Colin Kaepernick a job.