The authors of an award-winning biography of George Floyd, the Black man whose murder at the hands of a White police officer shook the world, were not allowed to read from their book at a school event in Tennessee, NBC News reports.
Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa visited Whitehaven High School in Memphis, but event organizers asked them not to read from His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice. They were also asked not to discuss systemic racism with the students.
Samuels and Olorunnipa’s book, published last year by Viking, recounts the life and death of Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis by police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020. Chauvin was convicted of murder in 2021; three other officers were convicted of aiding and abetting manslaughter. Floyd’s murder spawned worldwide protests against police brutality and racism.
His Name Is George Floyd won the Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. In a starred review, a critic for Kirkus praised it as “a brilliant biography, history book, and searing indictment of this country’s ongoing failure to eradicate systemic racism.”
“It was really disappointing to hear that our speech was going to be limited,” Olorunnipa told NBC News. “Not only for us, but for the students whose access to knowledge is going to shape their journey in this world and in this country.”
A spokesperson for Memphis-Shelby County Schools denied that they had placed restrictions on the authors’ event, and blamed “misinformation that was said to have come from us.”
Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.