MIDDLEFIELD — A candlelight vigil on the Town Green Tuesday honored the memory of George Floyd a year after his death.
“Because it is an issue that is ongoing, we want to make sure that the attention is brought to it,” said Patrick Holden, Middlefield-Durham Racial Justice Team leader and the vigil organizer. “We, as a group, don't want to fade away and just become a little footnote as it has happened in the past.”
Tuesday marked one year since Floyd, who was Black, died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd pleaded for air. Chauvin, who is white, has since been convicted of murder and manslaughter for Floyd's death.
Participants gathered on the Middlefield Green holding candles as the pastor from the Middlefield Federated Church read excerpts from scripture. Those in attendance then read out loud the list of names of unarmed people of color who have died at the hands of police from 2000 to the present day.
After reading out loud over 170 names, the participants browsed through “Something Happened in Our Town,” a children’s book by Donald Moses and Marianne Celano about racial injustice.
The book follows two families — one white, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their neighborhood. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives, said Holden.
Bob Donahue, chair of Durham’s Board of Finance as well as the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, said Floyd’s death was an “example of hatred and racism” that still exists in the current day and age.
“The George Floyd incident was just one of many and for whatever reason, it’s the one that got the most attention and got people to start realizing that this world is really not as accepting as it should be,” said Donahue.
Maya Liss, a Durham resident, said that Floyd’s death helped many people understand the level of racial discrimination in the United States.
“I think there is finally some traction with regard to changing the inequality that exists in our country, and unfortunately, it came about through the death of George Floyd,” said Liss. “By showing up to this vigil, I am hoping to do something to help fix the problem and also set a good example for my daughter.”
Sue VanDerzee, a former Durham resident, added:
“The murder of George Floyd was so graphic and so available to everyone. Even people of good heart who knew that there were bad things that were happening to people of color were just shocked and needed to do something.”
For more events organized by the Middlefield-Durham Racial Justice Team, visit their Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.