Philonise Floyd testifies before the House Judiciary Committee.
Philonise Floyd Testifies Before The House Judiciary Committee
Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, headlined a June 10 hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, which is working on a bill to address police violence and racism. The hearing took place a day after George Floyd’s funeral in Houston, which was attended by thousands. In the two weeks since Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, nationwide protests have led to a slate of national and local policy proposals as well as signs of cultural change. Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. This video has been edited for length. To watch the video in its entirety or read the transcript, click here.
- House Democrats have already unveiled a plan to reform policing through Federal regulation. Republicans in the Senate are developing their own reform plan, though it appears it will be significantly more limited in scope.
- Numerous policy changes have been enacted or proposed at the municipal and state levels, including cities canceling contracts with police departments to keep officers in schools.
- Protests continue to transform public spaces, including the destruction or removal of statues associated with the Confederacy and other historical figures associated with racism and oppression.
- Non-governmental entities have announced actions as well. For example, NASCAR has announced a ban on Confederate flags at its stadiums, and long-running TV shows such as “Cops” have been taken off the air.
Discussion Questions: The Bravery of Philonise Floyd
- Essential question: How has American society been transformed in the weeks between George Floyd’s death and his memorial service? What changes, either in policy or culture, do you think are most important?
- How are public testimonials such as that of Philonise Floyd important for shaping legislation? What about their importance in shaping public opinion?
- Do you think the most effective policies can be made at the Federal level, the local level or through direct action by American citizens?
- Media literacy: In her testimony, Angela Underwood Jacobs wondered “where is the outrage” over the death of her brother, Patrick Underwood, who was shot and killed in Oakland last month while working as a Federal officer during protests. Why do you think Underwood’s story has not been as prominent in national news?
If there is time: Have students review this EXTRA Daily News Story from May 29, four days after Chauvin killed Floyd. What expectations of some of the interviewees have been met in the past two weeks? What expectations have not yet been met?
Floyd’s memorial service on June 4 included eulogies by family as well as prominent political figures such as Reverend Al Sharpton. Have your students watch this eulogy by Rev. Sharpton in which he says, “this is a different time and a different season,” suggesting this push for civil rights reform may produce change in ways past demonstrations were not able to achieve.
Ask your students: Does this seem like a “different time and different season” than past protests over racial injustice or police violence? If so, why?
To help put this moment in historical context, you may want to share this lesson plan about civil disobedience and civil rights in the US.
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