HOUSTON — Many emotional tributes poured in Tuesday to remember George Floyd, including a balloon release at Cuney Homes in Houston hosted by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Meanwhile, a brand new park in Third Ward across from Yates High School, Floyd's alma mater, was dedicated to the Houston native over the weekend and named in his honor.
A year after Floyd’s death changed the world the community in which he grew up in is demanding justice and change. Floyd grew up in Cuney Homes in the Third Ward.
Some people who live there say the last 12 months have not felt real but they say the legacy he’s left behind will live forever.
“The brutal, horrific murder of George Floyd shift the conscious of the world," said Bobby Mills.
While Floyd’s name is known around the world a year after he was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, many people like Mills are inspired to make sure that he is not just another life lost.
“I think to some degree things have changed," Mills said.
“We think about the countless other individuals who day in and day out are really working to better themselves, working to see a brighter tomorrow and it’s a real serious reminder that is still a lot of work that has to be done if we’re truly going to be a country that believes the equality and the justice that we all pledge our allegiance to," Mark Nixon said.
Nixon said small changes have taken place after Floyd’s murder, but he believes there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
“I don’t think we’re close to the finish line but I think we have an all-time high on awareness that something is wrong and needs to change," Nixon said.
People like Nixon said it’s important that people rise up to the occasion in the fight for change.
“If everyone does their part then we’ll win because this an old African proverb that ‘Many hands make light work,’ so it’s really important that we’re do this," Nixon said.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee used the evening to pressure other lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act immediately.
Civil rights activists, like organizers of Campaign Zero, a group fighting for police reform, say Floyd's death opened a lot of people's eyes.
"I think for Black people, it was like déjà vu,” said civil rights activist Deray McKesson. “We've been here before. We've seen it. For a lot of other people, it was shock. People were like, ‘I can't believe the country's like that,’ and we're like, ‘The country's been like that. You just saw it on camera, right?’"
Houston remembers Floyd with street art and on street corners. He was a man who in death became a larger than life symbol.
But at the Scott Food Store Tierwester and Winburn, where there is another popular Floyd mural, he was someone far more personal.
Bella Clemons says she was Floyd’s godmother.
“I just came to sit, sit with George.” she said. “I raised him the house with my boys.”
Floyd grew up in Third Ward’s Cuney Homes and went to Yates High School.
“We call him Big Floyd, O.G. We call him The Counselor," said Kim Hewitt, who owns Brunch Box across from the Food Store. “You in his house today, Third Ward.”
Since Floyd's death one year ago, much has happened. There have been nationwide protests and rallies. Corporations have pledged $1.7 billion to racial and social justice causes.
Is that making a difference?
“Everybody just under gunfire right now," Hewitt said. "So l feel like everybody’s on their best behavior. That's anything. When you in trouble you on your best behavior."
“They need to see something, say something law on this, inside of the police department.”
He’s referring to officer misconduct.
Defund police movements have cost police departments more than a billion dollars.
Staley’s response? “No, I believe we need order, order in the world. But it’s hard to find the right people to put that together.”
The world remains a complicated place, but Clemons has a message for Floyd, saying, “Things will get better.”
Since Floyd's death, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter and three other officers are also facing trial.
There has also been an ongoing fight for police reform. Just last month, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced sweeping new changes within the Houston Police Department, including a new body cam policy and an overhaul of the police oversight board.
President Biden hosts Floyd family at the White House today
President Joe Biden welcomed members of George Floyd's family to the White House on Tuesday, one year after he died.
His killing sparked months of nationwide protests focused on systemic racism and a renewed debate over police reform in the U.S. Chauvin was convicted last month on multiple charges stemming from Floyd's death.
Today's White House meeting was private. The White House said President Biden wants to have a "real conversation" with the family.
Floyd's daughter Gianna, mother Roxy Washington, sister Bridget Floyd, brother Philonise Floyd, brother Rodney Floyd, brother Terrance Floyd and nephew Brandon Williams were there.
President Biden's plans to host Floyd's family came as talks focused on the police reform bill named after Floyd — the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — have stalled on Capitol Hill. Biden had previously set the anniversary of Floyd’s death as the deadline for the bill’s passage and left much of the negotiations up to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but there’s been little movement on the legislation in recent weeks.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the White House is “in close touch” with the negotiators and “they still feel there’s progress being made,” but they’ve acknowledged it’s “unlikely” they’ll pass a bill by Biden’s deadline.
The Associated Press contributed to portions of this report