Girl who witnessed George Floyd’s killing releases book for his birthday

“A Walk to the Store” to be released on what would have been Floyd’s 49th birthday

It’s been two and a half years since the shocking death of George Floyd brought international renown to a little girl. Now that child is heading back into the spotlight. But this time it will be as an author, not an eyewitness. “I still think about that day sometimes,” said Judeah Reynolds. “It still makes me sad and sometimes I cry.”

On October 14, “A Walk to the Store,” a picture book that tells Reynolds’ story, will be released. The book details how the then nine-year-old girl wanted to buy candy at a store near her home in Minneapolis and her 17-year-old cousin Darnella Frazier agreed to accompany her.

As they left Cup Foods, the girls were horrified to see George Floyd on the street beneath Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee. Reynolds was at her cousin’s side as Frazier used her cell phone to record the brutal incident. That video sparked worldwide protests and has been credited with inspiring a new racial reckoning.

“My cousin told us I changed history,” Reynolds said. “They say we are heroes.” Now 11, Reynolds is a sixth-grader and probably six inches taller than the girl pictured in the pages of the book, wearing a pale green shirt emblazoned with the word “love.”

Reynolds and her family have since relocated to Chicago, but she was back in Minneapolis ahead of the book release. To prepare for the day, she had a morning at the beauty shop, in the chair of stylist Marsha D Carter.

On Friday, Oct. 14, Reynolds will visit the Legacy of Dr. Josie R Johnson Montessori School in North Minneapolis, where every one of the 160 elementary students will be given a donated copy of her book. Reynolds will read “A Walk to the Store” to the students and answer their questions.

“Judeah’s book is about a girl who overcame her trauma. She can show other kids that they can be brave too. And they can talk to an author who looks like them,” said children’s book author Sheletta Brundidge, who connected with Reynolds and her family and co-authored “A Walk to the Store.”

The book shows Reynolds suffering with sadness and “scary dreams” in the aftermath of the incident and tells how her parents let her unload her jumbled emotions and gave her their loving support. The book shows them returning to 38th and Chicago to see memorials to George Floyd and concludes that the community is “working to make things better because we told what happened.”

“People have wondered what became of that little girl. They say, ‘I hope she’s okay,’” said Brundidge. “Well, we can see she is thriving. After the trauma they’ve been through, her family is intact and strong.”

The last page of the book includes tips from Licensed Marriage and Family therapist Anissa Keys of Arubah Emotional Health Services in North Minneapolis. The advice guides caring adults on how to have conversations with children who have witnessed or have a fear of disturbing, upsetting, or traumatic events.

“We want to de-stigmatize therapy for young people in the Black community,” said Brundidge. “That’s not the first thing we think about. We tell them, be strong, be tough. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks didn’t go to therapy. But it matters for mental health.”

The October 14 book release coincides with what would have been Floyd’s 49th birthday. ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com, Brundidge’s podcasting platform, is sponsoring a birthday celebration. Two Black-owned businesses, Ice Cream Kingz and Flame Mobile Kitchen, will be on hand to treat the kids and mark the event that will celebrate Floyd’s life and impact, including the release of 49 balloons.

Reynolds will be in the middle of it all, experiencing a happy day that’s in balance with all that she has experienced. “When I’m sad, my mom helps me feel better. She gives me hugs,” she said. “Kids can be brave and it’s okay if we’re scared sometimes.”

For more info, visit http://www.awalktothestore.com.

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