Texas pastor Steve Wells urged white churches to “take up the work of racial justice” during his tribute speech at George Floyd’s funeral in Houston on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are better than we used to be, but we are not as good as we ought to be,” Wells, who leads the South Main Baptist Church, told the attendees at the predominantly black Fountain of Praise church.
“I have to tell you, at my church it is easy to not talk about racism,” Wells continued. “At my church, it is easy to dismiss as politics the economics of hundreds of years of systemic racism. But not talking and not acting is the path to destruction. And we can watch that on the news every night and ask if that is the future we want for ourselves.”
“So could I just have the privilege, I would like to say a word to white churches,” he added. “We are better than we used to be, but we are not as good as we ought to be. And that is not good enough, which means you have to take up the work of racial justice. Racism did not start in our lifetimes but racism can end in our lifetime.”
Floyd, 46, died on Memorial Day during an arrest by Minneapolis police officers responding to a report of a man passing a counterfeit bill at a store. Video captured a white officer kneeling on the neck of the unarmed black man for nearly 9 minutes before he died, setting off protests around the world.
In a taped video address, former Vice President Joe Biden expressed his condolences to Floyd’s family and vowed to usher in a new era of “racial justice” if elected to the White House.
“To George’s family and friends … I know the deep hole in your hearts when you bury a piece of your soul deep in this earth,” he said. “As I’ve said to you privately, we know, we know you will never feel the same again. For most people, the numbness you feel now will slowly turn day after day, season after season, into purpose, through the memory of the one you lost. But for you, that day has come before you can fully grieve, and unlike most, you must grieve in public, and it’s a burden. A burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better in the name of George Floyd.”
President Donald Trump has called Floyd’s death “very sad and tragic” and promised “justice will be served” in his case.
“I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace, and I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, attack, and menace,” the president said. “Healing, not hatred; justice, not chaos, are the mission at hand.”
The UPI contributed to this report.