George Floyd’s aunt and cousin visit Arkansas to encourage people to get out and vote

“Sometimes it has to take a horrific thing to happen to bring it to the forefront. And since it has happened, vote.”

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Change continues across the country in the wake of national outrage over George Floyd’s death. 

Floyd’s family was in Little Rock on Saturday to make sure change doesn’t stop at the streets, but continues in the voting booths.

DuShun Scarbrough, Executive Director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, said Arkansas is George Floyd’s aunt and cousin’s first stop to speak at after Floyd’s funeral. 

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Angela Harrelson, Floyd’s aunt, said their purpose of being here is to encourage people to vote, so change can continue to happen across our country.

“Sometimes it has to take a horrific thing to happen to bring it to the forefront. And since it has happened, vote,” she said. 

On May 25, Angela Harrelson and Paris Stevens lives were shaken. 

Harrelson said the world changed that day.

“Anybody that has a heartbeat of compassion was moved. I mean, this happened in the middle of a pandemic, COVID-19. COVID-19 didn’t kill my nephew, the police did,” she said. 

That Monday, they watched one of their own die at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers.

Harrelson described it as “traumatizing.”

“We all had to grieve together. Some of us are still grieving, but you know, we are going to heal together too. We are going to heal together too by making laws, getting laws out there, and fighting this fight,” she said. 

A fight that has sparked a movement across the nation to end police brutality and make a difference. 

A movement that Stevens, Floyd’s first cousin, said is powerful.

“It is our responsibility to see that change is coming. It’s not going to be a seasonal thing, we can’t make it seasonal. So we have to vote when we are supposed to,” she said. 

Reminding Arkansans of that civic duty was the main message heard at the historic block of W. 9th St. and S. Broadway on Saturday afternoon. 

Scarbrough said the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission put on the event, “Get Out to Vote,” to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

“We get side-tracked by so many things and we are losing our fundamental right of understanding why it’s important to vote and to get people in office,” he said. 

Electing officials who will make the change, that some people across our nation, are crying out for. 

It’s all about educating, inspiring, and encouraging, according to Scarbrough. 

“It’s not always important to vote for people that look like you, vote for people that think like you. People who can change perceptions and make change happen along with your mindset and your way of thinking,” he said. 

Over a month has gone by and Stevens said the fight is still not over for George Floyd and her family, but they aren’t stopping until that change is made.

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“We have to continue to walk the walk, today, tomorrow, a month from now, a year from now,” she said. 

Harrelson and Stevens went to Hot Springs after their stop in Little Rock to share the same message in Garland County.