As part of the commemoration of the day, Floyd’s family — including his 7-year-old daughter Gianna — met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House. During that visit, Associated Press photographer Evan Vucci snapped this incredible image:
That’s Gianna walking into the West Wing of the White House with a Marine sentry holding the door open for her. (A Marine is always on duty when the President is in the West Wing.)
It’s a striking image — the door to the single most powerful office in the country being held open for a little Black girl who was headed to meet not only the President of the United States but the first female vice president and first woman of color in that job. (Gianna had a grand time with Biden in the Oval Office by all reports: “My wife will kill me — we gave her some ice cream, she had some Cheetos and I think she had a chocolate milk,” the President recounted.)
For me at least, the picture brought a glimmer of hope.
The last year has been one of the most difficult in modern American history — between the nearly 600,000 Americans who have died from the Covid-19 pandemic and the seemingly weekly reports of another unarmed Black man or woman killed in a incident with the police.
Hope has been a rare commodity. So has meaningful change.
And to be clear, I am certain that Gianna Floyd would gladly trade her visit to the White House to have her father alive. The circumstances that created this powerful image speak to the still-ongoing inequalities in policing in this country. A man is dead. The man who killed him — former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin — was convicted last month on three counts including 2nd and 3rd degree murder. Incidents of Black men being shot and killed at the hands of police haven’t stopped since Floyd’s death. A legislative attempt to reform policing practices — named after Floyd — remains un-passed, although there do appear to be some reasons for optimism.
Progress can be achingly slow in this country. And a single visit to the White House, and the compelling picture documenting it, doesn’t change any of the things I noted in the paragraph above.
But in spite of all of that, the image of Gianna Floyd walking through an open door into the West Wing brought me joy — and hope that all of the tragedy of the past year might give way to a fairer and more equitable country for her to grow up in.