The Bigger Picture: Honoring George Floyd at UVA’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers

June 5, 2020 By Sanjay Suchak, Sanjay Suchak,

A crowd gathered Friday to honor George Floyd at the University of Virginia’s new Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, calling for justice at a site remembering years of injustice.

Gathering unofficially, many of those in attendance wore white coats, a mark of their work at UVA Health and their support of the national “White Coats for Black Lives” movement, which has worked to raise awareness of police brutality, inequality and racism in health care and demonstrate support for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

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Demonstrators, all wearing masks to guard against infection, knelt in a moment of silence for Floyd for nearly nine minutes – the same length of time that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was videotaped kneeling on the handcuffed Floyd’s neck before Floyd died. The brutal circumstances of Floyd’s death have led to sustained nationwide protests; Chauvin is now charged with second-degree murder, and three of his fellow officers on the scene have also been charged with abetting Floyd’s death.

The new Memorial to Enslaved Laborers was completed this spring. A large, in-person dedication ceremony was planned for April, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the memorial remains open to the public for reflection and education.

Read more about the memorial and some of the people behind its creation here.