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Friends And Family Honor George Floyd At His Place Of Birth

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Now we head to North Carolina, where on a sweltering day, George Floyd was remembered at a church near his birthplace. It was the second of three ceremonies for the man known to his friends as big Floyd, or Perry Jr. From member station WUNC, Jeff Tiberii reports.

JEFF TIBERII, BYLINE: Across America, chants echoed through the streets on Saturday, calling for justice and change. Inside of a rural North Carolina church, a black woman in a white dress used her voice to bring an entire congregation to its feet.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUBY FLOYD: Got to hit a note for my baby. (Singing) God save us...

TIBERII: Ruby Floyd praised, preached and sung about her stepson. George Perry Floyd Jr. was remembered on Saturday. An estimated 10,000 people paid their respects at a public viewing. A private memorial service followed. And along with the sadness, there was an optimism that the country has hit a tipping point.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HUBERT PETERKIN: America, you better get this because what they're saying - there's going to be no peace until there is justice.

TIBERII: That was actually the local Hoke County sheriff, Hubert Peterkin. In a passionate speech, he called on law enforcement to look inward and embrace six words.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETERKIN: We are part of the problem.

TIBERII: Floyd was killed by a now-former Minneapolis police officer almost two weeks ago. The officer, who knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, has been charged with murder.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETERKIN: But we as law enforcement officers don't have the authority to bully, push people around and kill them because we have on a badge and a gun.

TIBERII: Baptist Reverend Christopher D. Stackhouse delivered Floyd's eulogy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTOPHER D STACKHOUSE: If I have to demand legislation change, we will. If we have to meet with the sheriffs, we will. If we have to meet with police chiefs, we will. If we have to yell it from the valley, scream it from the mountaintop, march in the streets in protest, we will. Enough is enough.

TIBERII: One central theme of the service was that Floyd's death cannot be in vain. A surrogate for the governor also spoke. Jeremy Collins quoted scripture in his message to those grieving.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEREMY COLLINS: There's a word that says, but this sickness is not unto death but that the son of man might be glorified. I want to remind each one of you that some death ain't about dying. Some death is about waking all of us up.

(APPLAUSE)

TIBERII: There will be one more public memorial service for George Floyd tomorrow in Houston, where he grew up. For NPR News, I'm Jeff Tiberii in Raeford, N.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.