One Man's Life and The Struggle For Racial Justice
by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa
A landmark biography by two prizewinning Washington Post reporters that reveals how systemic racism shaped George Floyd's life and legacy—from his family’s roots in the tobacco fields of North Carolina, to ongoing inequality in housing, education, health care, criminal justice, and policing—telling the story of how one man’s tragic experience brought about a global movement for change.
The events of that day are now tragically familiar: on May 25, 2020, George Floyd became the latest Black person to die at the hands of the police, murdered outside of a Minneapolis convenience store by white officer Derek Chauvin. The video recording of his death set off the largest protest movement in the history of the United States, awakening millions to the pervasiveness of racial injustice. But long before his face was painted onto countless murals and his name became synonymous with civil rights, Floyd was a father, partner, athlete, and friend who constantly strove for a better life.
His Name Is George Floyd tells the story of a beloved figure from Houston's housing projects as he faced the stifling systemic pressures that come with being a Black man in America. Placing his narrative within the context of the country's enduring legacy of institutional racism, this deeply reported account examines Floyd's family roots in slavery and sharecropping, the segregation of his schools, the overpolicing of his community amid a wave of mass incarceration, and the callous disregard toward his struggle with addiction—putting today's inequality into uniquely human terms. Drawing upon hundreds of interviews with Floyd's closest friends and family, his elementary school teachers and varsity coaches, civil rights icons, and those in the highest seats of political power, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa offer a poignant and moving exploration of George Floyd’s America, revealing how a man who simply wanted to breathe ended up touching the world.
“A much-needed portrait of the life, times, and martyrdom of George Floyd, a chronicle of the racial awakening sparked by his brutal and untimely death, and an essential work of history I hope everyone will read.”
- Henry Louis Gates Jr., author of
The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song
"A vivid, necessary portrait of a Black man in America in all its nuance, tragedy, and fullness. This extraordinary bookbrings life to the indispensable context of systematic racism in which George Floyd lived."
-ABBY PHILLIP, CNN anchor and senior political correspondent
“His Name Is George Floyd is a sobering, deeply intimate account of George Floyd’s life and all that he had to carry and contend with as a Black man coming of age in America. In a remarkable feat of reporting, Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa help us come to know Floyd as a full, rich, complicated human being, whose murder and whose journey in life forces us to reckon with the unquestionable truth that race still very much matters in this country. Thank you Samuels and Olorunnipa for taking us behind the headlines.”
-ALEX KOTLOWITZ, author of There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America
“Writing with cogency and compassion, the authors free Floyd from the realm of iconography, restoring his humanity . . . A brilliant biography, history book, and searing indictment of this country’s ongoing failure to eradicate systemic racism.”
-KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review
About the Authors
Robert Samuels is a national political enterprise reporter for TheWashington Post who focuses on the intersection of politics, policy, and people. He previously wrote stories about life in the District for the Post’s social issues team. Samuels joined the Post in 2011 after spending nearly five years working at the Miami Herald.
Toluse Olorunnipa is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for TheWashington Post. He joined the Post in 2019 and previously covered the White House. Before that, he spent five years at Bloomberg, where he reported on politics and policy from Washington and Florida.