cover image His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice

His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice

Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa. Viking, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-49061-7

Washington Post reporters Samuels and Olorunnipa deliver an impeccably researched biography of George Floyd, whose 2020 murder by Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests. After recounting the events leading up to Floyd’s death, the authors rewind to his early years in Houston’s segregated Third Ward in the 1970s and ’80s. Recruited to play football at Texas A&M–Kingsville, Floyd became the first in his family to attend a four-year college, but struggled to meet the academic requirements and eventually dropped out. Back in the Third Ward, he got sucked into the drug trade and spent more than a decade in and out of prison before moving to Minneapolis for a fresh start. Interwoven with the biographical details are incisive sketches of the political and historical events that have shaped life for Floyd’s family and other Black Americans. Recounting how Floyd’s great-great-grandfather was forced to sell his landholdings in early 1900s North Carolina, the authors note that “between 1910 and 1997, Black farmers lost control of more than 90 percent of their farmlands.” Elsewhere, Samuels and Olorunnipa discuss the war on drugs, school segregation, redlining, and more. This multifaceted and exceptionally informative account is both a moving testament to Floyd and a devastating indictment of America’s racial inequities. Agent: Karen Brailsford, Aevitas Creative Management. (May)