Remembering George Floyd

What comes next for Meet Minneapolis, says CEO Melvin Tennant, is being built on a foundation of equity.

Author: Barbara Palmer       

George Floyd

A child is photographed on May 22 near one of the more than 200 pieces of art at “Justice for George: Messages From the People,” a public exhibition honoring the memory of George Floyd at Phelps Park in Minneapolis. (Augustus Isaac photo)

Over this past weekend, marches and rallies in multiple cities — including Minneapolis, Houston, New York, and Atlanta — were held to remember George Floyd, who was killed by police a year ago today, on May 25, 2020.

Melvin Tennant

Melvin Tennant

In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, his legacy also was remembered with a public exhibition of the street art that appeared in the days and weeks that followed his death. The installation in Phelps Park, “Justice for George: Messages From the People,” featured 200 works of art painted on the plywood boards that were put up on many building facades last spring and summer, to protect windows from potential damage during protests. Nearly 800 boards have been collected by local grassroots volunteers and organizations, including Save The Boards and Memorialize the Movement, and are being archived in order, according to a StoryMaps page created for the exhibition, to “uplift our community as we preserve these works and tell this story.”

It’s a story that has changed not just Minneapolis, but the world. George Floyd’s killing “was a moment in time that really reignited a movement across this country and around the world,” Melvin Tennant, CEO and president of Meet Minneapolis, said in a Convene interview last September. In Minneapolis, he said, “We are a place where this movement was reborn, and we take that responsibility and that stewardship very seriously.”

Street art like this appeared in Minneapolis and other cities after the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. (Courtesy Memorialize the Movement)

In the months since then, the organization has explored “how the rich and intricate story of a community embarking upon a healing and introspection process can be told in the context of our overall marketing messaging,” Tennant wrote in post published on the Meet Minneapolis website, one of a series of posts from the CEO that addressed issues of social justice and recovery. In the CVB’s latest campaign, “8 Top Reasons Why Minneapolis Should Be Your Next Meeting Destination,” the No. 1 reason listed is the commitment to make Minneapolis “a safe and equitable city for everyone to live, work, and visit.”

Meet Minneapolis also has added stories to a Support Black Lives page on its website dedicated to Floyd’s legacy and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as highlighting the community’s Black history, culture, and Black-owned businesses. The post “Remembering George Floyd Through Minneapolis Public Art” tells the story of the street art, and how it served as a way to express both resistance and grief.

“Much of the conversation surrounding our industry’s recovery centers on returning to normal,” Tennant wrote on the website. “In my view, we should strive for more than the previous normal as BIPOC businesses and workers were being marginalized. Let us make it a commitment to activate an inclusive recovery strategy in all we do.

“While we are all working feverishly to get our industry back on its feet and our many displaced hospitality workers back on the job, we cannot forget the more foundational work of creating equity and justice for all of our citizens. This is a journey that we have only just begun.”

George Floyd

The street art on display at the weekend exhibition in Minneapolis was created on the plywood boards used to protect many building facades last spring and summer during protests. (Augustus Isaac photo)

 

Barbara Palmer is deputy editor of Convene.