When a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck during an arrest on May 25, 2020, Darnella Frazier pulled out her phone. She pressed “record” and for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, we all became witnesses.
George’s death sparked a new reckoning with the racial injustice that still stains our culture. This reckoning took collective shape in the protests of the summer of 2020 and the community organizing and advocacy that followed. It also must take shape in each of us as individuals — but that process is not as simple as showing up to a city square and holding a sign. We must each examine the ways that racism has implicitly shaped our worldview and find new ways to recognize the God-given dignity in each other.
The anniversary of George Floyd’s death is a good time to reflect on what happened during those 9 minutes and 29 seconds on the corner of East 28th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. We need to grapple with the dehumanization we witnessed there because it is also happening on street corners all across America — and within our own hearts. We must come to terms with that violence if we are to be transformed by it and come through the other side with hearts more full of love and hungry for justice.
As we reflect on George Floyd’s death and the racial injustice that confronts people every day, let’s not forget to use the tools of reflective prayer. Bringing God into the conversation opens up new horizons for us; bringing voices from others who have faced — and transcended — oppression gives us hope.
That’s why we created this reflective prayer service on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. It is structured around his final words: though they were uttered in despair, this reflection exercise brings new light to see them as jumping off points for a search for hope and meaning. The prayer can be carried out in 9 minutes and 29 seconds — if you’d like to have some music to accompany your reflection, use this playlist of songs curated to amplify the themes.
Many thanks to Melissa Marley Bonnichsen, M.Div., Director of Leadership Formation for the Center of Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, for creating this prayer service.