In David Oyelowo‘s interview with Oprah Winfrey, 66, for her town hall on racism, which airs on June 9, he discussed how the death of George Floyd broke both his and his son’s hearts and explained why the video of the tragic situation stayed with him. After the talk show host referred to an emotional reaction Instagram video the 44-year-old actor posted after seeing the clip of Floyd dying while Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes, she asked him why he decided to share such strong feelings with the public.
“I posted it because I have made the mistake of thinking that things would be different for my son, I say mistake because I had watched things progress in some ways and then the knee on the neck is so symbolic of so much,” David, who played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2014’s Selma, told Oprah in a live video during the town hall. “It’s something I didn’t realize that I had internalized in a way that makes it difficult for me to function, I didn’t realize how deep the wounds were. I have spent so much of the last two weeks crying and one of the moments when that began is when I went to speak to my son and I didn’t have the words.”
David went on to explain that part of the difficulty in telling his son was because in the video he saw that Floyd “wasn’t resisting arrest.” “It’s not like saying to my son, ‘Put your hands on the dash, don’t be confrontational…’ Those conversations are already emasculating, to basically say forget about justice in an interaction with the police,” he said. “Come home alive.”
David, who has four children, including son Asher, 18, and son Caleb, didn’t mention what son he was referring to when talking about his reaction to Floyd’s death but his sentiments reflected the fear that many African American children are growing up with today. In his social media video, which Oprah mentioned in the town hall interview, the British star went into detail about hearing his son cry over Floyd.
“I was walking past his bedroom and I heard sobbing and I went in to see my son and he was broken because he didn’t quite understand the world he had graduated into,” he tearfully said in the June 4 video. “And I couldn’t give him any comfort.” He went on to talk about the racial injustices of other African Americans and concluded that he doesn’t feel “safe” and wants to see a difference when it comes to racism for his son and the world.
Oprah’s two-part town hall, Where Do We Go From Here?, airs tonight on Discovery and OWN at 9/8c.