Special report: Host Angela Davis explores how George Floyd changed us

George Floyd artwork displayed on a wall
One of the walls inside a Minneapolis storefront at George Floyd Square displays signs and pictures people have made to remember George Floyd. His aunt Angela Harrelson is working with volunteers to preserve the items people have left over the past year to honor her nephew as part of the George Floyd Global Memorial.
Megan Burks | MPR News

It started with a Minneapolis store clerk calling police over a possible counterfeit bill. Minutes later, people were calling 911 on the police. A murder was unfolding in front of their eyes, as a white officer had pinned a Black man to the pavement, ignoring his pleas of “I can’t breathe.”

Until that day — May 25, 2020 — many knew Minnesota more for its many lakes and cold winters than for its persistent racial disparities. But a teenager’s cellphone video, which captured the crime at a bustling intersection in south Minneapolis, told a different story.

a group of people sitting in a park and talking
Host Angela Davis and producer Megan Burks interview members of the Austin family at a park near George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on May 8.
Marcus Rupert

In this one-hour special broadcast heard on public radio stations across the country, host Angela Davis reflects on how George Floyd changed us.

Guests:

  • Angela Harrelson is George Floyd’s aunt who lives in Minneapolis and works with volunteers to preserve George Floyd Square, where Floyd was killed. Harrelson is a registered nurse and co-chair of the George Floyd Global Memorial nonprofit.

  • Resmaa Menakem is a renowned trauma specialist who lives in Minneapolis. His book, “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” came out in 2017 and hit the New York Times bestseller list after George Floyd’s murder.

  • Brandt Williams is a correspondent for MPR News who has covered police brutality, police-community relations and police reform efforts in Minneapolis.

  • Judy Austin has lived near the intersection where George Floyd was killed for 35 years and raised a family of healers there. She is a doctor of ministry and executive pastor at Proverbs Christian Fellowship in north Minneapolis. Her neighbors call her “Dr. Mom.”

  • Jeanelle Austin is Judy Austin’s daughter and the lead caretaker at George Floyd Square. She is also treasurer-secretary for the George Floyd Global Memorial nonprofit. She moved back to Minneapolis during the 2020 summer uprising to be with family and serve the community.

  • Jeanette Rupert is another daughter of Judy Austin. She is a reverend and a nurse at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. She split her time this past year treating COVID-19 patients in intensive care and treating protesters and neighbors at a makeshift clinic in George Floyd Square.

  • Theodore Austin, who goes by Butchy, is Judy Austin’s son and recently bought the house next door to his childhood home. He is a father of four and a trumpet player. He spent the past year collecting and distributing supplies to people impacted by the uprising and pandemic.

  • Rachel Austin is Butchy Austin’s wife and a mother of four. She coordinated mutual aid alongside her husband and helped take care of children in the neighborhood during the uprising.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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