‘It’s not over:’ George Floyd protests remind local civil rights leaders of Memphis’ past


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some people say the death of George Floyd reminds them of Memphis’s painful history, but they are encouraged by the way the city has come together during this time.

Elaine Lee Turner is a civil rights activist who marched, protested and picketed in places like Memphis and Selma, Alabama. She was arrested multiple times in her fight against social injustice.

“I see déjà vu. You know, the same thing happening all over again from the 1960’s,” Turner said.

As that fight continues now, she does notice a key difference.

“Now it’s being filmed,” Turner said. “It’s on video. Now people can see what we have seen all of these years.”

Turner says that’s one of the reasons buildings are burning in Minnesota.

“It represents over 400 years of oppression of built up anger, of built up frustration and nobody is listening,” Turner said.

These are discussions Dr. Martin Luther King Jr brought up more than 50 years ago. While the approach may have differed, his fight was the same.

“He knew that when there was violence then the issue took a sideline because folks were focused on the violence and that’s what’s happening right now,” said Faith Morris with the National Civil Rights Museum.

And keeping the focus where it belongs is why younger activists like Devante Hill says he has an obligation to organize protests and speak up.

“I think it’s our time to pick up that torch Dr. King wanted to ignite here in this city, for Memphis to be the catalyst of that change in a non-violent way that also still participates and believes in social disobedience,” Hill said.

“I applaud these young people,” Turner said. “I encourage them to yes please keep up the fight. The mantle has been passed to you and it’s not over.”

Organizers say they’ve been encouraged by the diversity of people participating in this week’s protests. They hope that continues with another peaceful protest outside FedEx Forum Friday night at 6:30 pm.

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