76 minutes | May 20, 2022

‘His Name Is George Floyd’

After the murder of George Floyd, reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa spent months learning everything they could about Floyd’s life. The story they reveal in a new book shows how systemic racism shaped and shortened it. 

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“He's everywhere — but he's not here. He's on somebody's wall. He's on somebody's billboard. … He's in a newspaper, but he's not here. He's here in spirit. But he's not here.”


In the summer of 2020, after George Floyd was murdered, he became a symbol and a rallying cry. But what was missing in our understanding was the man himself — a figure who was complicated, full of ambition, shaped by his family and his community and centuries of systemic racism. 


The Washington Post set out to better understand who Floyd really was and reported a series of stories about George Floyd’s America. We made a podcast based on this reporting, “The Life of George Floyd,” which we’re playing today for you in full. But two of the reporters on that project still had questions. 


Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa have now written a book that delves deeper into Floyd’s life — what he was like as a father, a boyfriend, a classmate, an athlete, how ambitious he was. And how those ambitions were hobbled by systemic racism. They learned about things that happened to Floyd’s family, hundreds of years before he was born, that shaped everything that would happen to him later. 


If you’d like to read an excerpt of Robert and Tolu’s book, you can find that here: How George Floyd Spent His Final Hours.

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