After George Floyd was killed on a Minneapolis street May 25, Larry Fitzgerald remained silent until penning an essay for the New York Times that appeared June 7.
The Cardinals receiver and Minneapolis native was besieged with media requests, but he wasn’t ready to comment. As he pondered the situation, he decided to go home about 10 days earlier than he had planned to see for himself what was it was like in his hometown.
He said in a conference call Friday, “I wanted to see some of those participating in some of the protests. Talk to some of the city leaders and get kind of a pulse for really what was going on. You watch Fox News, you're going to be on the right. If you watch CNN, you're going to be on the left. And I didn't want to have the information that I was receiving be jaded or misinformed. I wanted to not only get accurate information, but also gauge what my true feelings and emotions would be like. I mean, where he was killed is less than a mile from where I spent the vast majority of my childhood, and I wanted to really kind of emotionally engage in what was transpiring.”
He was also preparing for when he would decide to communicate his thoughts and how he would do it.
“I felt like if I gave quotes or went on TV and answered questions, it would be possibly to facilitate an article that somebody else was (doing), using quotes for this and that, and I really felt like what was best would be to just sit down for two weeks taking notes from every single interaction that I had with somebody. White, black, police officer; I just had a lot of conversations with a lot of people (to get) their feelings and not only their feelings, but the emotions that they were feeling.”
That experience ran the gamut, Fitzgerald said, “because a lot of the people here felt outrage and a lot of people were optimistic that this should bring about change and so it was a contrast and difference of opinions. And I wanted to gather all that and then internalize it, see how I felt about it and be able to write my true feelings on paper where my words couldn't be misconstrued or used (for) some agenda pushing this or pushing that, and that's why I did it the way I did it. I just wanted it to be a true accurate depiction of what I was really feeling being somebody born and raised here.
“And that's why I took I took my time with it because this is so unbelievable what's transpired over the last two weeks and how different the climate and the conversations that are being had and the corporations what they're doing and their stance on things. Much has changed and I was wanting to make sure that I was really getting a good gauge on how I felt and what I really wanted to say.”
During the days he has spent in Minneapolis, Fitzgerald has made good use of his time.
He said, “I have great relationships with a lot of the politicians and state legislators here. I've been here a very long time. My dad (Larry Fitzgerald Sr.) has been a pillar in this community for a long time. So I've talked to a lot of people. I don't want to miss anybody by naming them. I've been to St. Paul, I've been to north Minneapolis and south Minneapolis. Talked to some community activists over the last two weeks, trying to build on that and really get a great grasp for who I'm talking to.
“What I'm talking about I don't think is important for me to disclose, but I've got a lot of work done. I think it's important for me to now really focus on action. That's really what's gonna effect change.”
As for how the change will look and what the next steps are, Fitzgerald brought it down to a raw, human element of education and knowledge while noting, “I would be naïve if I told you that earlier in my life that I didn't see color more often, right? It's something that, unfortunately, we all do it even if you don't want to admit it.”
He then spoke about the awakening he’s had during his world travels.
“The more I have educated myself, the more knowledgeable I’ve become. Traveling around the world to 107 countries I've met people from every single race, people from every different religion, men and women, homosexual, heterosexual, transgender. I've met great people in every single place I've gone. I've met great people, great poor people. I just see people in a different light because I've seen it. I've had such positive interactions with people all over the world.
“It's about just accepting people for who they are. One day I pray that we'll be able to look at the color of a person's skin no differently than the shirt that you're wearing, or the shoe color that you have, or the color of your eyes or your hair. When we get to that point, the world will be a much better place, but it's going to take some time, it's going to take some understanding, it's going to take a lot of education and people opening their hearts to things that they possibly didn't think was possible in the past. But I think with the way things are going right now, I think it's a lot more feasible than it was at any other time in history.”
Optimistic words that we should all take to heart.
Here is the link to Fitzgerald’s essay in the New York Times.