A year since George Floyd’s death, people are pushing for change that lasts

Written by on September 24, 2021

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

(MINNEAPOLIS) — A lot has changed in the year since George Floyd’s death at the hands of police sparked a nationwide reckoning.

Amid the outcry, Confederate monuments were removed and hauled away. Racially insensitive scenes from popular TV shows, like Golden Girls and The Office, were pulled by streaming services. And, along with all the new racial equity initiatives announced by corporations, some also changed the names of their brands — Aunt Jemima, for example, is now the Pearl Milling Company.

While the changes over the last year might be one step toward racial equity, people like Hank Willis Thomas, a conceptual artist based in Brooklyn, New York, are working to ensure there’s a more inclusive landscape for all, not just for now but in the future, too.

Last summer, as protests broke out across the country in the wake of Floyd’s death, Thomas’ sculpture of a bronze arm arm in downtown Brooklyn — called Unity — became a rallying point for demonstrators, he said.

Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, said that Confederate and other war statues around the country carry powerful messages, but often show a biased perspective on history or completely leave out other important perspectives and truths. She said there’s an opportunity to reimagine and build the monument landscape of tomorrow by telling more inclusive and diverse stories through public art.

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