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The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

SOAR holds fourth memorial for George Floyd

SOAR honors murder of Floyd through facilitated discussion

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Every year following, Students Organized for Anti-Racism (SOAR) has held a memorial honoring Floyd’s life and remembering that day.

Students were welcomed into C350 for the fourth memorial held for Floyd May 23. Students were given journals to write in as they reflected on questions asked by SOAR members that facilitated the discussion.

Park Mayor Nadia Mohamed was also present with the students who attended the memorial. Mohamed said the discussion section of the memorial stood out to her because it demonstrated the capacity of Park’s youth.

“The discussion section brought up a lot of knowledge, compassion and vulnerability,” Mohamed said. “Oftentimes, people say, ‘Oh, young people don’t know what they’re talking about.’ However, we’ve seen kids who’ve said, ‘Well, if I don’t know, I’ll go research and build on my own awareness.’ That speaks to the level of intelligence that our youth already have coming into adulthood.”

At the tail end of the memorial, Mohamed gave a brief speech to commemorate SOAR for organizing the event. According to junior Sy’Mora Blue, she appreciated the students’ recognition from the mayor.

“I loved how the mayor came and said she was going to sit down and listen,” Blue said. “But, she decided to speak and said how everyone did a good job. She was surprised but very happy for us to sit here and really discuss what’s going on in our community and society.”

Mohamed, who is also an alumni of Park, said she was particularly proud of the competency students from her former high school displayed about issues that are dealt with at both city and state levels.

“As I was saying earlier, I think it fills me with pride and inspiration to see my ‘juniors’ doing this work that we’re trying to do at the city level (and) at the state level,” Mohamed said. “We’re trying to be inclusive of the communities that we serve, and to see our next generation coming up already understanding communities and being empathetic, you can find inspiration within them.”

Senior Calvin Zimmerman, who has been involved in organizing the annual memorials since his freshman year, said he worries about dwindling attendance. According to Zimmerman, the memorials address topics that expand beyond Floyd’s death and impact Park’s community as a whole.

“We’ve been organizing this for four years now. One of the biggest things in attendance (is that), every single year, it seems to get smaller and smaller. That upsets me a little bit because it feels like people are forgetting about the issue,” Zimmerman said. “Four years ago, everyone was talking about it. Everyone was having conversations about it. This is deeper than just George Floyd. It’s about our whole community and what we’re going to do just to sustain that work, even if we forget George Floyd’s name, which I hope never happens.”

Though Zimmerman is graduating, he said he hopes that the tradition continues beyond the senior class who helped to start it. According to Zimmerman, the memorials carve out a space for productive conversations to consistently be held.

“I hope this (tradition) continues because it needs to continue,” Zimmerman said. “If we don’t have this continue, when are we going to have the time to have conversations like this? It’s clear right now that we don’t have conversations like this in our classrooms. Right now, this feels like the only safe space to talk about this with people that look like us.”

Mohamed echoed similar sentiments about persistence. Mohamed said that youth who want to impact their communities should continue to promote a community where diversity is represented and traditions are carried on.

“Keep going. We are a multiracial, multicultural community,” Mohamed said. “So it’s important to have a community that represents that as you are cultivating your thoughts and values and building on traditions going forward.”

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About the Contributor
Anya Panday
Anya Panday, Editor-in-Chief
Howdy!! I’m Anya, and I’m one of the Editors-in-Chief this year, along with Crystal Diaz. I’m a junior, and this is my third year on Echo. When I’m not decorating the Pub, you can find me lifting weights, stress baking, performing on a stage and expanding my scented candle collection. I pride myself in covering content relevant to Parks student body and helping our staffers learn all about journalism. I can’t wait to work with the talented staff this year!

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