Last week I skipped an installment of this column to sit with others and process, to mourn and celebrate the lives of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and the hundreds of others injured or killed in incidents involving law enforcement officers. I worried about social distancing while supporting demonstrators and marchers. I listened to a lot of music.
Sometimes being involved in creating art or images seems like the least helpful thing when I’m faced with the enormities of the state. But I wanted to claim this column for something powerful this week. I wanted to make a connection. To ask you to think about a man who made music in his early adulthood in Houston, who recorded with his friends and became a member of a “click.” Who lived a big life full of hip-hop, family, and service to others. Who lived.
This week, I reached out to local artist and designer Teshika Silver (who also contributed to the Reader Coloring Book) to help me make a tribute to a concert that should have been. George Floyd was called “Big Floyd” by some of his friends, and beginning in the mid-90s he rapped under that name with Houston’s DJ Screw and the influential Screwed Up Click. I wanted to commission a concert poster for an imaginary show with Big Floyd headlining at the historic New Regal Theater, a favorite of mine on Chicago’s south side.
I asked Silver to make this concert poster happen, but I left the details up to her. I also asked her to help pick out some nonprofit organizations to highlight. She chose the date of the fantasy concert, and told me, “I imagined that George had survived, and had he survived, his rap career had a resurgence and he got his old rap crew together again. Next year, in 2021, they would tour, and end up in Chicago on Monday, January 18: MLK Day.”
Thank you, Teshika, for this work and for helping me pay tribute to Big Floyd. Readers interested in contributing to Mr. Floyd’s estate and helping to make a better life for his daughter and the rest of his family can give to the GoFundMe set up by his sister.
ARTIST: Teshika Silver
FANTASY GIG: Big Floyd, DJ Screw, and the Screwed Up Click at the New Regal Theater on Monday, January 18, 2021
ARTIST INFO: instagram.com/astratesh
NPO TO KNOW: Silver chose two local organizations to highlight: the Chicago Freedom School, which supports youth activism and liberatory education, and the Chicago Torture Justice Center, an organization and community center dedicated to addressing the traumas of police violence and institutionalized racism.