How George Floyd’s death will impact American history

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - From George Floyd’s death the to unrest and demand for social change that followed, this moment in history will impact generations to come. But how will these historical events of 2020 be taught to children in schools and from what perspective?

How to tell the racial history of America is something often debated by historians. As we reach the one year mark since George Floyd died at the hands of a former Minneapolis Police officer, UW-Madison expert Pam Oliver says how this moment in time shows up in the history books remains to be seen.

“Different schools will probably teach the story differently but there will also be a struggle over the narrative,” said Oliver.

Pam Oliver is a Professor Emerita of Sociology. She studies social movements, social justice, racial disparities, and how protests are covered in the news. She says the history lesson of George Floyd’s legacy will likely vary depending on who’s teaching it.

“There’s basically things where people who study history know what happened but there are huge battles about whether to teach them and tell people what happened,” said Prof. Oliver.

Madison Metropolitan School District officials say discussion about the topic in the classroom is at the discretion of the teachers right now.

George Floyd is not the first Black man to die in police custody, so why did his death have the impact it did. Oliver says the pandemic and Former President Trump being up for re-election are large factors.

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