City and state leaders vowed to “deconstruct” systemic racism and mandate “antiracism” training for employees on the third anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
Gov. Tim Walz signed a proclamation declaring May 25 as George Floyd Remembrance Day.
“We must continue to do everything in our power to come together to deconstruct and undo generations of systemic racism in our state so that every Minnesotan has the opportunity to thrive,” the governor said in his proclamation.
Thursday marked the start of a three-day “Rise and Remember” celebration hosted by the George Floyd Global Memorial, which includes a conference, festival, and gala, beginning with a candlelight vigil Thursday night.
Floyd was killed in police custody May 25, 2020. He had a criminal history that included assault, robbery, theft with a firearm, and drug charges. He had also served jail time. Yet state and city agencies acknowledged the day and encouraged employees to recognize it as well.
In an email to Department of Human Services (DHS) employees, Commissioner Jody Harpstead described Floyd as a “loving son, doting father, beloved brother and friend whose murder rattled our local communities and sparked a global movement for change.”
“As we remember George Floyd’s death three years ago, we recognize the work for justice and equity is far from over,” she wrote in the email. “Systemic racism continues to threaten the health, safety and wellbeing of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color in Minnesota and beyond.”
Harpstead said DHS “remains steadfast” in its commitment to “becoming an antiracist organization,” including by “requiring every employee to complete the Orientation to Antiracism training” and “building antiracism training and knowledge sharing into every executive management and senior strategy team meetings.”
“I invite you to use this somber anniversary as an opportunity to listen to and uplift marginalized voices, confront our own biases and recommit to eliminating systemic racism and discrimination,” she concluded.
The Upper Midwest Law Center is currently suing DHS over its mandatory training on antiracism and gender identity, saying the agency discriminated against two former employees who objected to the training because of their Christian beliefs.
Minneapolis Fire Chief Bryan Tyner also encouraged his staff to participate in a city-wide “remembrance program.”
“During this event, we will reflect on the steps we have taken to promote racial equity in Minneapolis and in our workplace. We will also acknowledge where we’ve fallen short, and the actions we commit to moving forward,” he wrote in an email obtained by Alpha News. “A pivotal portion of the remembrance program will include everyone taking nine minutes and 29 seconds to be silent, to breathe, and to remember. If you can’t attend in person or online, we hope you will still take a moment in your day to pause and remember.”
Best Buy, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Health Care, and T-Mobile are a few of the “Rise and Remember” sponsors.
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.