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Melodee Strong paints a mural at a Celebration of Life festival in honor of George Floyd, on the first anniversary of his death, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo credit: Eric Miller, REUTERS
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For Artists & Culture Bearers

Community is crafted. I thank our creatives and culture bearers
who loved us out loud and in ceremony
channeling the combustion of our grief, suffering, and trauma this past year, across generations, and still

who said his name, Brother George Perry Floyd, Jr.
who painted all the names on the pavement where his life was crushed out
remembering and calling on our ancestors

who made murals, penned plays and spat poems, fired sculpture, self-published and sang
who danced and drummed, photographed and filmed
stenciling our stories of struggle and survival

who sewed solidarity and carried the lists, the text chains, the phone trees, the family trees
who quilted kin and coalitions
inviting others to participate, to visit, to contribute, and to stay

who convened folks online and masked up in person
who taught us safety during COVID, protest, and uncertain conditions,
supporting our collective well-being

who brought us back to our bodies
who led yoga, movement, and meditation in the parks, on screens, and in the streets
reminding us of the necessity of our breath and our joy

who held space at 38th and Chicago,
who engaged elders and young folks, and each other to buy land, rent buildings, build out studios, and build up organizations
evolving new connections and economies with urgency and grace

who worked within institutions
who adapted programs to new platforms and spurred the disruption of sluggish and segregationist systems
testing the purpose and plasticity of policies

who reported out from the corner, the courtroom, and the chatroom
who offered sleepless analysis, context, and critique
sharpening and informing our participation

who called for accountability and access
who advocated for basic income, a living wage, and for more just distributions of resources and power
centering oppressed and impacted peoples and orienting toward liberation

who walked the rivers and camped in resistance
who live and have lived here all the while
declaring the sacredness of land and water

who knew we were the ones and did not wait,
who assert our humanity and our inevitable connections with each other and this Earth
holding a reverence for life as replenishing as rain.

Members of the group Midnight Express dance on the first anniversary of George Floyd's death, at George Floyd Square, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo credit: Nicholas Pfosi, REUTERS

This poem is part of a series of first-person reflections our colleagues are sharing about George Floyd and the racial justice movement.

Topic: Arts & Culture, Diversity Equity & Inclusion

June 2021