Toluse Olorunnipa

His Name Is George Floyd

His Name Is George Floyd

One man’s life and the struggle for racial justice

Summary

'His Name Is George Floyd is essential for our times.' Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist

'An intimate, unvarnished and scrupulous account of his life...brilliantly revealing.' NEW YORK TIMES

You know how he died. This is how he lived.

Who was George Floyd? What did he hope for? What was life like for him? And why has his death been the catalyst for such a powerful global response?

The murder of George Floyd sparked a summer of activism and unrest all over the world in 2020, from Shetland to São Paolo, as people marched under the Black Lives Matter banner, demanding an end to racial injustice. But behind a face that would be graffitied onto countless murals, and a name that has become synonymous with civil rights, there is the reality of one man's stolen life.

In His Name is George Floyd we meet the kind young boy who talked his friends out of beating up a skinny kid from another neighbourhood and then befriended him on the walk home. Big Floyd the high school American football player who ignored his coach's pleas to be more aggressive and felt queasy at the sight of blood. The man who fell victim to an opioid epidemic we are only just beginning to understand. The sensitive son and loving father, constantly in search of a better life in a society determined to write him off based on things he had no control over: where he grew up, the size of his body and the colour of his skin.

Drawing upon hundreds of interviews with friends and family members, His Name Is George Floyd reveals the myriad ways that structural racism shaped Floyd's life and death - from his forebears' roots in slavery to an underfunded education, the overpolicing of his community and the devastating snare of the prison system. By offering us an intimate portrait of this one, emblematic life, Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa deliver a powerful and moving exploration of how a man who simply wanted to breathe ended up touching the world.