Author and award-winning Washington Post reporter Robert Samuels will visit Penn State’s University Park campus on Thursday, February 9, to discuss his book, “His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice.”
In recognition of Black History Month, this event is being sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Penn State chapter of Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), Penn State Outreach and Online Education, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity.
“Robert Samuels eloquently explains how the death of one man, George Floyd, demonstrates the fear and trauma experienced by so many people and the concern and willingness of others to stand in solidarity,” said Karen Armstrong, director of inclusion, equity and diversity for Outreach and Online Education. “Robert Samuels openly writes about humanity.”
Patreese Ingram, assistant dean for multicultural affairs in the College of Agricultural Sciences, added, “We are happy to provide this opportunity to reflect on the life of George Floyd and to discuss the wide-ranging impacts that his death continues to have on our society.”
Along with co-author and fellow Washington Post reporter Toluse Olorunnipa, Samuels explores the backstory of systemic racism in George Floyd’s America, taking the reader inside Floyd’s world and his family’s lifetime of challenges that led up to his horrific death in Minneapolis. Through interviews with those who knew Floyd and an in-depth review of the Minneapolis police force, the authors paint a picture of Floyd, the man, and the tragic circumstances surrounding the end of his life.
Ade Falade, of Atlanta, Georgia, is a fourth-year student majoring in animal science and a member of MANRRS. “Our chapter’s decision to host Mr. Samuels was largely based on our own experiences as minorities in a predominantly white field,” she said. “Many of my friends, and myself, have experienced bigotry and insensitivity from people we encounter or work with every day.”
She noted that not only did the sociopolitical climate of the world change after George Floyd’s untimely death and the protests that followed, but students’ lives also were changed. “It’s important to remember that outside the politics, George Floyd was a human being,” Falade said.
“With the issues that have loomed over the African American community since the dawn of this country, it is important to hear from those who are educated on the political economics of race to become better informed,” said Jaden Fields, another member of MANRRS and third-year veterinary and biomedical sciences student from Rockwall, Texas. “Hosting Mr. Samuels will allow us to absorb the knowledge he has worked hard to obtain.”
Organizers hope the presentation will spark discussions to explore the roots of racism, both past and present, and highlight how one person can make a difference to create change. “His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice” was a finalist in the 2022 National Book Awards in the nonfiction category.
The presentation and question-and-answer session will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Freeman Auditorium in the HUB-Robeson Center. This event is free and open to the public with first-come seating. The event also will be livestreamed at watch.psu.edu/robert-samuels. A book sale and signing will follow at 8:10 p.m.