May 25 marks the 1st anniversary of the death of George Floyd. Like many, it is a return to the day the world witnessed a black man lose his life at the hands of Derek Chauvin. Ultimately the former police officer was “found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the historic case,” a month shy from a year ago when Floyd laid lifeless on the streets of Minneapolis, MN. Video footage that is still hard for people to watch today, like Houston-based publicist La’Torria Lemon.
“I actually watched the video in its entirely about a month ago,” says the woman responsible for last year’s coordination, PR, and media of George Floyd’s nationwide services. Lemon shares that it was during the trial of Chauvin, but beforehand, she could not bring herself to watch it, even recounting the details of when she was first made aware of what happened.
“Obviously, everyone knows I work with a lot of rappers and artists, and I found out about his death in the middle of an interview that was taking place with Paul Wall and Lil’ Keke,” Lemon says both artists “were interviewing with a magazine in Europe.” She shares, “I immediately saw Paul Wall’s head drop, and KeKe was looking at his phone. I was like, “Wow!” and “Even during that time; it was a video circulating on social media. I could not watch because someone lost their life. I heard everything about the video, but I didn’t think I could stomach it to fast-forward a week or two later, and being involved in organizing and doing PR was surreal. I was one of the first people to view his body before the services to make sure it was presentable for everyone. Needless to say, as the world was grieving, and rightfully so through this traumatic situation, I was kind of in work mode until after the last funeral service June 9th in Houston.”
Lemon then responded to our question on how she refueled afterward.
“I literally had to take a few days and process what had taken place, and the role that I played in it because I knew the capacity of it and I took it extremely seriously as I do all of my work, but I also didn’t realize the emotional effect that it was going to have on my staff and me. We’re a small company of four people. We all had to take a couple of days because it was a lot. It was impactful, but we wanted to make sure it was a celebration of his life for his family, and that is what we were able to execute and convey. I am very proud of what we did. I am still very saddened by the situation to even when I hear his name. Today, I’ve seen people with George Floyd shirts and masks and things of that nature, and it touches me in a different way.”
We asked her thoughts on how she feels people will remember George Floyd to keep fighting the ills of police brutality?
“It seems so surreal that it has been a year already. George Floyd made an impact. I am pretty sure he would have never imagined it would have been such as this, so the fact that people are still fighting for justice, equality, and keeping his name and message alive is powerful in more ways than one. He will forever be a part of history and not just because he lost his life but more so because of what transpired and the focus on racism that took place—the focus on police brutality and the harm that took place across the nation as a whole.”
How can we keep the legacy of George Floyd alive?
His family has the George Floyd Foundation, where they do community initiative and empowerment to bring awareness on racism, police brutality, and it is a way people can support. Another way is by educating each other. We often realize we may have friends with different views, but a lot of the time, it can be a lack of education and information they have to really understand. If you have a voice share your thoughts in a respectful manner, but be vocal and stand for something. That alone helps. I am so proud of the younger generation—people in high school and college. To see them out marching and utilizing their voices and platforms to make a difference and make a change goes a long way.
What is your relationship with George Floyds’ family, and how do you continue to stay involved?
I was brought in to handle the coordination and the PR (media) by Fort Bend Memorial Planning Center (last year). I worked directly with funeral homes all across the nation because we worked with three different ones to execute the services. I worked closely with George Floyd’s cousin Shareeduh (Founder) of the George Floyd Foundation. I saw her and the co-founders last week checking, and I checked on them. Also, his brother and sister-in-law I’ve spoken with several times. I am also very close with the attorney team Ben Crump. Through the entire process, we have all kept each other informed on things local or national.”
Lemon shares that when she doesn’t speak with the family, she is “constantly praying for them.” Especially she says, “the last couple of months having to relive everything taking place with the trial.” Adding that in “August/September, we will be right back at it with the other three officers that were involved. You know, it takes a toll on everybody.”
“I wanted to represent the family well, him well, and our beautiful city.”
La’Torria Lemon is the founder of Lemon-Lime Light Media in Houston, TX.
What are your thoughts about the legacy of George Floyd one-year later?
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,