TAMPA, Fla. - Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of former police officer Derek Chauvin and people across the country gathered and reflected on his memory and progress on police reform.
For Black Lives Matter Tampa co-founder Donna Davis, it was a day of reflection.
"This is a momentous occasion of course. The George Floyd Justice Act coming being debated in the Senate now. A lot of us are thinking about where we’re going with criminal justice reform in this country today, especially," said Davis.
This past year included conversations about police reform and also highlighted broader issues about diversity in the workplace, challenges facing Black-owned businesses, and the need to include Black voices in discussions at all levels. Community activists say those conversations started, but lasting change won’t happen in one year.
"Humans don’t change their thinking or their behaviors very quickly or very easily. I think that we are on a path. I do not believe that change is an instantaneous thing," said Davis. "It’s a process, and this is just a part of the process."
After a summer of racial reckoning, organizations, businesses and people said they would stand back and listen. That included University of South Florida students who protested for change on the anniversary.
"This is something I did not grow up with. This is something I was recently exposed to, so it’s just been about listening and learning and acting on the conversations that we have," said Laura Rodriguez, a USF student.
Some of the students protesting shared how they are working to understand the issues.
"I read books like ‘How to be an Anti-racist,’ a much more like that and a bunch of economic books which really shine a light about the system in America and how capitalism as a whole is really just built to subjugate poor people and minorities," said Ben Braver, a USF student. "I’ve actually had discussions with people which is a very important step."
But even after a year, Black Americans say the work isn’t done, and activists said people should keep educating themselves on why those issues matter.
"Talk to your neighbors. If there’s something that you’re thinking and you’re sure of it, ask someone who may not agree with that. This is how we begin to deconstruct thinking processes," said Davis.
Activists said people need to continue asking themselves those tough questions about racial injustice and inequality and then grow from that to bring about real change over time.