On Valentine’s Day, a remarkable number of Boston College students forsook romance in favor of showing love for people in another way - advocacy. On Tuesday, February 14th, 2023, students packed the house at Robsham Theater to hear Terrence Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, speak. The event, entitled “In Conversation with Terrence Floyd,” was hosted by UGBC in conjunction with their AHANA panel, which is committed to advancing diversity and advocating for minority rights at Boston College. As students entered Robsham, they were handed a slip of paper with the name of a person who had lost their lives to police violence written on it. Before the event began, the audience was asked to join in a moment of silence for these people whose lives were lost due to injustice.
Terrence Floyd entered to rapturous applause. Decked in Boston College gear, he looked truly grateful for the opportunity to share his brother’s story and his own story of advocacy with yet another audience of students, eager to hear what he had to say. It was apparent that Floyd cherished his ability to speak about his brother and the work that he has done to help right the unjust system that stole his brother’s life. Terrence Floyd introduced himself, but also explained who his brother, George Floyd, was. George Floyd was a Minnesotan who was brutally killed by police officers in Minneapolis in May 2020. His death sparked protests across the nation against police brutality and racism in general. Terrence discussed how impactful social media was in spreading his brother’s tragic story and the message against police brutality. He urged the audience to keep using social media to share beliefs and political and activist ideals, noting how important social media is for this younger generation to influence political and social spheres.
Floyd also talked about his own experience with advocacy. After his brother’s death, he was urged by his friends to take up advocacy after they heard his speeches about George Floyd. However, Terrence did not have a set plan until he saw Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. He emphasized that a scene in this film where many characters utter the phrase “I am Malcolm X” sparked the slogan for his activist group: “We are Floyd.” He talked about the work he has done as an activist: he has given speeches, utilized social media to spread his message, and worked with NYPD officers to prevent further instances of police brutality in many precincts throughout New York.
Floyd also opened up about his personal connection with his brother. While they shared the same father, they did not grow up together. They instead connected later in life, although this did not make their connection or relationship any less meaningful. Terrence remarked that while he knew that George had substance abuse issues, he was actively working to get better and overcome his issues, painting a more sympathetic picture of George compared to the slander and stereotypes the media had applied to him at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests. George Floyd was a positive light in many people’s lives, including Terrence’s.
Above all, Terrence underscored that he was speaking for his brother. He urged the audience again to take action to make social change, listing remedies such as voting, posting on social media, and becoming civically engaged in other ways as routes to make true change in society. Terrence Floyd truly honored his brother’s legacy, and encouraged the audience to put in effort to honor not only his brother’s life, but also the lives of the many others who lost their lives to police brutality.