A Houston artist has painted a poignant tribute to George Floyd, one that evokes an inspirational turn to Floyd’s last words. The mural is in Third Ward, the neighborhood where Floyd grew up and spent his formative years.
Artist Donkeeboy (born Alex Roman, Jr.) and his mother, Donkeemom (Sylvia Roman) have painted an image of Floyd with angel wings and a halo, which reads, “forever breathing in our hearts.” That phrase calls to mind Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” now a rally cry in marches and protests across the nation and world.
The mural is located at Scott Food Mart (3341 Winbern St.) near Jack Yates High School, Texas Southern University, and the University of Houston. Floyd attended Yates High School and was a star athlete on its football team.
The live painting quickly evolved into a community celebration, with dozens of residents supporting the two artists overnight. Donkeeboy and his mother told CultureMap news partner, ABC13, that they just had one hour to come up with an idea and theme.
The inspiration, Donkeeboy told ABC13, came from an Instagram message. The idea for Floyd's mural happened when someone sent Donkeeboy a message on Instagram. “To me, it was important to show that he was a beautiful soul, he means a lot to Houston and to Third Ward,” Donkeeboy told ABC13.
“I am an artist. It’s important to document the things that happen in our world. It was an honor someone asked me to come do this, to pay tribute to him.”
The mural comes at a time when the nation is embroiled in protests after Floyd’s death. The protests stemmed from the videos that surfaced of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee down on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — all while Floyd pleaded for help, with the cry, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd died in police custody.
Meanwhile, Houston leaders have planned a march in honor of Floyd on Tuesday, June 2, from Discovery Green to City Hall.