Corner store painting urges people to vote and marks Floyd’s 47th birthday
A vibrant mural celebrating the life and legacy of George Floyd was unveiled on Oct. 12 in Houston’s Third Ward during the week he would have turned 47.
During an event orchestrated by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Floyd’s relatives and friends, as well as elected officials, community leaders and onlookers offered comments and applause in remembrance of the man known as “Big Floyd” who was raised in Cuney Homes and had a larger-than-life presence in Third Ward.
The year 2020 has been unprecedented in its grind through a global pandemic. Although it may seem long ago, it hasn’t yet been six months since George Floyd perished beneath a Minneapolis officer’s knee after repeating “I Can’t Breathe” on May 25. His death has sparked a global movement.
“This phenomenon – around the world – created a seismic, piercing and nonending pain that has driven people to try to do better,” Jackson Lee said. “It has fostered the attempt to bridge any schism that we have had between each other and between dealing with those who deal with our public safety and us.”
The mural by Rwanda-born artist Ange Hillz of Visual Paint, based in Houston, appears on the side of a convenience store at 3400 Holman at Sampson. The rendering of Floyd’s face is infused with a fluorescent rainbow of colors and flanked by two white release doves. Signs conveying the messages “Be the change” and “Go vote” are carried in the birds’ feet.
The painting will be a lasting reminder of the man whose death, recorded on cell phone video, shed light on police misconduct and spurred demonstrations worldwide for Black lives and law enforcement accountability.
Floyd’s relatives – including brothers, Philonise Floyd and Rodney Floyd, and nephew Brandon Williams – thanked the artist and those in attendance for standing by the family while urging everyone to vote. Early voting in Texas begins on Oct. 13. George Floyd’s birthday is Oct. 14.
Philonise Floyd said that the mural “speaks a lot about what we need right now. The thing I want everybody to know is that voting is a privilege. Your vote is your voice. Silence is violence. If you don’t vote, somebody else will make the decision for you.”
He asked listeners and viewers of the news conference to vote for their neighborhood and their ancestors, while anticipating robust election participation this season.
“Don’t listen to people when they say voting doesn’t matter. If people can stand for hours in a line for some new Air Jordan tennis shoes, hours outside of a club to get into it, then stand out for Black Friday camping out – you can stand in a line to vote,” Philonise Floyd said.
Herbert Mouton, George Floyd’s football teammate at Jack Yates High School, has helped create an organization to honor his childhood friend’s legacy by advocating for lasting advancements in communities like Third Ward where they grew up.
The organization, 88 C.H.U.M.P., combines the number Floyd wore as a football player at Yates and an acronym that stands for Communities Helping Underprivileged Minorities Progress.
“We’re going to keep on pushing,” Mouton said. “All I can do is ask you all to vote.”
Attorney Ben Crump, who represents Floyd’s family, called Jackson Lee to participate in the news conference and she held her phone to the microphone to amplify his comments.
“We have to vote for all of those who came before George Floyd,” Crump said. “Until we get justice for George Floyd, none of us can breathe.”
When the white tarp came down at the end of the news conference and revealed the mural, the crowd cheered, then began to chant: George Floyd. George Floyd. George Floyd.