FINALIST FOR THE 2022 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION
A landmark biography by two prizewinning Washington Post reporters that reveals how systemic racism shaped George Floyd's life and legacy—from his family’s roots in the tobacco fields of North Carolina, to ongoing inequality in housing, education, health care, criminal justice, and policing—telling the story of how one man’s tragic experience brought about a global movement for change.
“It is a testament to the power of His Name Is George Floyd that the book’s most vital moments come not after Floyd’s death, but in its intimate, unvarnished and scrupulous account of his life . . . Impressive.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Since we know George Floyd’s death with tragic clarity, we must know Floyd’s America—and life—with tragic clarity. Essential for our times.”
—Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist
“A much-needed portrait of the life, times, and martyrdom of George Floyd, a chronicle of the racial awakening sparked by his brutal and untimely death, and an essential work of history I hope everyone will read.”
—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., author of The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song
The events of that day are now tragically familiar: on May 25, 2020, George Floyd became the latest Black person to die at the hands of the police, murdered outside of a Minneapolis convenience store by white officer Derek Chauvin. The video recording of his death set off a series of protests in the United States and around the world, awakening millions to the dire need for reimagining this country’s broken systems of policing. But behind a face that would be graffitied onto countless murals, and a name that has become synonymous with civil rights, there is the reality of one man’s stolen life: a life beset by suffocating systemic pressures that ultimately proved inescapable.
This biography of George Floyd shows the athletic young boy raised in the projects of Houston’s Third Ward who would become a father, a partner, a friend, and a man constantly in search of a better life. In retracing Floyd’s story, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa bring to light the determination Floyd carried as he faced the relentless struggle to survive as a Black man in America. Placing his narrative within the larger context of America’s deeply troubled history of institutional racism, His Name Is George Floyd examines the Floyd family’s roots in slavery and sharecropping, the segregation of his Houston schools, the overpolicing of his communities, the devastating snares of the prison system, and his attempts to break free from drug dependence—putting today's inequality into uniquely human terms. Drawing upon hundreds of interviews and extensive original reporting, Samuels and Olorunnipa offer a poignant and moving exploration of George Floyd’s America, revealing how a man who simply wanted to breathe ended up touching the world.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This powerful biography helps us know the man behind the movement against racial injustice and police brutality that erupted in the summer of 2020. Growing up in Houston’s Cuney Homes project, he was known as Big Floyd, a high school football star who was quick with a joke and always eager to help a friend. Issues with drugs and a lack of support for those with addiction prompted Floyd’s move to Minneapolis, where he hoped for a fresh start but was instead killed by police. It’s impossible to read this book and not feel a sense of rage and sorrow. Co-authors Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa expose the broader issues behind Floyd’s personal story, including the inadequacies of inner-city schools and the racism baked into police training. As they recount stories of Floyd’s sharecropper ancestors or bring to life his conversations with family and friends, we were moved by the passion of those who loved George Floyd. This is an important portrait of a complicated man.
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.