The Washington Post’s six-part series, “George Floyd’s America,” examines the role systemic racism played throughout Floyd’s 46-year life. The reporting explores the institutional and societal roadblocks Floyd encountered as a Black man from his birth in 1973 until his death.
The series is based on a review of thousands of documents and more than 150 interviews with Floyd’s friends, colleagues, public officials and scholars.
“George Floyd’s America” will publish throughout October. We welcome your response to the series.
How systemic racism shaped Floyd’s life and hobbled his ambition
By Griff Witte and Toluse Olorunnipa
George Floyd’s 46 years in America show that his life was shaped by the very forces people are protesting after his death — entrenched poverty, systemic racism, a broken criminal justice system and police violence. Read the complete story, “Born with two strikes”
At Jack Yates High, No. 88 pinned his dreams on sports
By Laura Meckler
George Floyd had long seen sports as his path out of the poverty, crime and drugs of Houston’s Third Ward. At 6 feet 6 inches, he excelled at basketball and then football, and his talents repeatedly gave him a shot at a different life. But, just as often, Floyd’s subpar education stood in his way. Read the complete story, “Looking for his ticket out”
Decades after George Floyd left Houston’s oldest housing project, another generation tries to make it out
By Tracy Jan and Arelis R. Hernández
For Kimberly Gibson, Floyd’s death has been more personal, an unsettling reminder that the future for her son remains precarious. His goal of making it out of Houston’s oldest public housing project on a football scholarship echoes Floyd’s journey nearly three decades ago. The path remains riddled by the vestiges of segregation and lingering discriminatory policies. Read the complete story, “Segregated from opportunity”
Communities and companies made money off Floyd’s imprisonment. Inside, Floyd withered.
By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
Behind bars, George Floyd found few opportunities to better himself, and the experience only exacerbated his depression, drug dependency and claustrophobia — the very issues that would play a role in the final moments of his life nearly a decade later. Meanwhile, communities and companies profited off his imprisonment. Read the complete story, ”Profiting from prisoners”
In Minneapolis, the physical and mental strain of a lifetime confronting racism
By Robert Samuels
George Floyd came to Minneapolis to heal. Jobless and deflated, he moved to this city to attend a rehab center that specializes in helping Black men find sobriety and a life purpose. But Floyd continued to find himself stuck in a familiar cycle that afflicts so many Black men, who are warned from a young age that any misstep could lead to them ending up behind bars or in a coffin. Read the complete story, “Racism’s hidden toll”
Police were a constant presence in George Floyd’s life, an experience shared by other Black men
By Arelis R. Hernández
George Floyd’s encounters with local law enforcement were part of the landscape of living and growing up in Houston’s Third Ward, where residents of Cuney Homes say they often felt besieged by police patrolling and locking up their neighbors. Several of Floyd’s contemporaries were caught in a similar cycle of arrest, charge, bail, jail and release. Read the complete story, “A knee on his neck”
- Resources to understand America’s long history of injustice and inequality
- Sign up for the About US newsletter, an initiative by The Post to explore issues of identity in the United States
- Visual forensics: What video and other records show about George Floyd’s final minutes
- Reconstructing seven days of protests in Minneapolis through hundreds of hours of social media live streams
- In photos: How George Floyd’s death sparked protests around the world
About this story
Editing by Steven Ginsberg and Simone Sebastian. Design and development by Junne Alcantara. Design editing by Suzette Moyer. Additional development by Lucio Villa and Jake Crump. Photo editing by Karly Domb Sadof and Robert Miller. Copy editing by Vince Rinehart. Video by Alice Li and Drea Cornejo. Video editing by Reem Akkad and Nicki DeMarco. Post Reports audio by Ted Muldoon and Linah Mohammad. Audio editing by Maggie Penman. Social promotion by Ric Sanchez and Travis Lyles. Audience engagement by Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn. Operations by María Sánchez Díez. Project management by Julie Vitkovskaya.