George Floyd’s beautiful memorial service took an interesting turn when reverend Al Sharpton began to name drop the celebrities in attendance. “I want to thank from the entertainment world, Kevin Hart. He told me don’t mention he’s here so don’t clap — stand up Kevin,” Al, who delivered the memorial’s eulogy, said at the event in Minneapolis on June 4. He proceeded to call on Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Master P, Will Packer and T.I. to also stand, and later invited Tiffany Haddish onto the stage.
Shifting the spotlight from George to celebrities rubbed some viewers at home the wrong way. “I’m confused. Why are these celebrities getting a shout out at George Floyd’s memorial service? I don’t care or need to know that Tiffany Haddish & Tyrese are in the building,” one such person tweeted. Many others were on the same page.
“Why tf is Al Sharpton recognizing these celebrities at this man’s memorial service? This ain’t about them!,” another person tweeted, and a third defended Tiffany’s spotlight but wrote, “I’m not confused as to why Tiffany Haddish is asking for a shout out I’m confused as to why Al Sharpton is giving shout outs at a funeral service in the first place #GeorgeFloyd.”
Despite the criticism, Al still moved audience members and viewers with his eulogy. “When I stood at that spot [where George died], the reason it got to me is that George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks. Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed of being is you kept your knee on our neck,” he told the crowd gathered inside North Central University’s Frank J. Lindquist Sanctuary.
George’s family members also took the podium to reflect on George’s life and call for justice. On May 25, white police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knee against George’s neck amid an arrest on suspicion of allegedly using a $20 counterfeit bill — which was never proven. The officer (who’s now fired and charged with second-degree murder)) kept his knee pressed against George’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, despite George being unarmed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. During Thursday’s memorial, everyone took a moment of silence for eight minute and 46 seconds to honor George’s legacy.