SOAR holds memorial for George Floyd

Assembly signifies one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder


Oliver Smith

Seniors Hannah Howell and Sadie Yarosh and freshman Josie Bohrod applaud a speaker during the George Floyd anniversary memorial organized by SOAR. The memorial took place during fourth hour and Park Connections May 25.

Talia Lissauer and Jacob Khabie

After a large number of students showed up to the George Floyd memorial, freshman Calvin Zimmerman said he felt it was crucial to continue to hold conversations to improve society. 

“We can’t stay silent, especially as people of color we can’t stay silent, we have to speak what’s on our mind and speak out against things that are wrong,” Zimmerman said.

On May 25, the club Students Organized for Anti-Racism (SOAR) held a reflection and memorial assembly honoring George Floyd one year after his murder at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Students were invited to speak, answering prompts given by SOAR members who facilitated the event.

While she came as a way to discuss and listen to student perspectives on racism in school, after hearing a student say he felt it was selfish for protesters to riot, freshman Myriah Humphrey said she decided to speak because she did not agree. She said it made her happy to hear all the students that stuck together in response to that comment. 

“I’m here because I am tired of all this racism going on and (how) it is affecting our schooling,” Humphrey said. 

Even after the student spoke to clarify his point, his comment motivated many students to speak about the value of a human life, which Zimmerman said he appreciated due to the number of people who spoke up. 

“Because of (the comment), we got more people to speak up about the situation and actually speak their truth which is what we’re always for, first and foremost,” Zimmerman said.

For the final part of the memorial, everyone took a 9 minute and 29 second moment of silence, representing the amount of time Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. According to senior Olivia Krueger, this moment was an appropriate way to end.

“(The moment of silence) made everyone uncomfortable and that’s what we all needed,” Krueger said.

Even though she hasn’t seen much progress in the year since Floyd’s death, Humphrey said she would like to see a major change to the education system. 

“(I would like to see) better education, more history about Black history, they need to feel comfortable to talk about color,” Humphrey said.

One prompt given by SOAR facilitators asked students how they want to see Park hold itself accountable. Moving forward, Zimmerman would like to see Park staff members speak about racism in classrooms, without needing guidance from administration in order to do so.

“(I’d like to see) teachers not just reading off of scripts but talking from their heart, expressing how they feel about these situations,” Zimmerman said.

Although she has seen some change, Krueger said she would like to see more students and staff members be willing to have tough conversations surrounding race and racism.

“I’ve seen some teachers slightly improve on having conversations about racism, but I haven’t seen too much,” Krueger said. “For some teachers, it’s still a very uncomfortable topic, and I think it’s uncomfortable (that) you have to talk about it. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”