The evangelical legacy of “Big Floyd”


George Floyd, the African American killed in Minneapolis by the racial hatred of a policeman, was engaged in a social work in the suburban neighborhood of Houston

Protests continue in Minneapolis and other U.S. cities over the death of 46-year-old African American George Floyd who was suffocated by police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday during a police detention and, for 7 endless minutes, pressed his knee against him until killing it.

But who was George Floyd? The man, who begged the policeman in vain by whispering “Please, I can’t breathe”, was a Christian of evangelical faith active in a social work in the suburban neighborhood of Houston (Texas), called Third Ward (third ward), inhabited largely by the African American community. There he was a mentor for many young people and called “BigFloyd4God”.

Floyd was in Minneapolis (Minnesota) for a discipleship program that included a work placement, but he intended to return to his social activity in the “third ward”, defined by Robert D. Bullard, a sociologist at Texas Southern University, “the the city’s most diverse black neighborhood and a microcosm of Houston’s largest black community. “

Floyd was known by everyone as a “person of peace”. Several times he had testified that he wanted to end the cycle of violence that raged among young people, engaging in discipleship and awareness activities. In particular he was involved in the housing project of Cuney Homes, known as “the Bricks”.

“George Floyd was a person of peace sent by the Lord,” said Patrick PT Ngwolo, pastor of Resurrection Houston, who served in Cuney, in an interview published on the Christianity Today website. “So far we have managed to reach that neighborhood and the hundreds of people who live there thanks to people like Floyd,” he added.

Ngwolo and other leaders met Floyd in 2010 on the occasion of a benefit concert that the church had organized for the Third Ward. Big Floyd was impressed by what was being done in favor of that neighborhood and those people and, since then, he decided to take part in it personally.

The church gradually expanded its service in that area of ​​the city: biblical studies, food distribution, medical clinics. Floyd was always on the front line, convinced that God could contrast the culture of violence and the use of weapons: more than 50 people had been killed in recent years in the ongoing gang warfare in the Third Ward and southeast Houston. Many boys, lacking male figures who served as a positive model, considered Floyd a brother, an uncle, even their dad.

A prayer vigil took place on Tuesday evening in Emancipation Park, the historic site of the Third Ward, once the only park open to African Americans in Houston during the segregation of Jim Crow. Floyd was remembered as a gentle giant, an inspiration for his neighbor and a positive force for change.

Unfortunately, Big Floyd’s life and commitment have been cut short by the blind violence of a white policeman, driven solely by racial hatred, who is still the original sin of the United States of America today.

Photo: Justice for George Floyd – Protest against police violence

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