Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

Pick a SPECIFIC date to explore

Jun 9: Family, friends, and dignitaries gather in Houston for the funeral of George Floyd. Georgia holds primary elections that are marred by faulty voting machines, closed precincts, and social-distancing rules that force voters to wait in long lines. Georgia is seen as a battleground state in the upcoming general election. More than a dozen states and Puerto Rico experience their highest numbers of new coronavirus cases to date. President Trump tweets that Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old peace activist injured when a Buffalo police officer shoved him during a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd, “could be an ANTIFA provocateur.” Trump makes the suggestion without evidence, and says Gugino “fell harder than was pushed.” 

From the cutting room floor...

Sarah Grossman had just graduated from The Ohio State University with an Honors Degree of Bachelor of Science in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. At first, she wanted to be a teacher. But to help pay for her education, she worked as a coffee barista at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters in Grandview, Ohio, an older neighborhood in Columbus with its own “downtown.” Stauf’s occupies a few storefronts in Grandview, with the café part on the left and the roaster part on the right. The coffee smell is so good and so strong that in the evening people come out of the restaurants and just sit at the tables under the awning, outside on the sidewalk, taking in the coffee smell, and talking late into the night (or did before COVID). The place is always packed with people of every age and persuasion. Sarah grew so in love with the place that she sort of drifted away from the teacher idea and planned on getting another undergraduate degree in Argentina studying the coffee industry. Today, Sarah is dead. She was at the Black Lives Matter protests in Columbus on May 28, when police doused the protesters with pepper spray and, though it’s under dispute, teargas. This happened before curfew, before any laws were broken. She was found by her parents, unresponsive the evening of May 30. The first outpouring of grief suggested the police-deployed chemicals that contributed to her 22 years being cut off, though it’s uncertain if that is the case.[1] Still, #ForSarah is trending.[2]

Grossman’s story becomes another point in this larger narrative about the intractability of police violence. George Floyd, the man on whose behalf Grossman was protesting, is today being laid to rest in Houston, Texas, where he grew up. The Rev. William Lawson, pastor emeritus at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, is speaking at the funeral this morning. Rev. Lawson acknowledges that the protests surrounding the death of Floyd have turned into a movement. And in becoming the tragic symbol of that movement, Floyd’s life is drawing comparisons with others. His life began in a metaphorical “manger,” says Rev. Lawson, in the “ghetto” of the third ward in Houston. But now, the name George Floyd is known, like other saints, “throughout the world.” He encourages the mourners:

You think something good can’t come out of this? His death did not simply start a bunch of good speeches, a bunch of tributes. Out of his death has come a movement. A worldwide movement. And that movement is not going to stop after two weeks, three weeks, a month. That movement is going to change the world.

Just yesterday, I was afraid nothing much had changed since the Kerner Commission in 1968 or even Truman’s group in 1947. Rev. Lawson surely knows this stony road, yet he seems confident that these last two weeks really have opened something in the nation’s core that has not been opened in its entire existence. I hope he is right. Six years ago, Black Lives Matter existed largely online, a response around St. Louis to the killing of Michael Brown, a problem for the Black community to solve. Today, as Sarah Grossman symbolizes, much more of America sees police violence as something they need to address. That conviction has spread far beyond young, middle-class, college educated, female America. Just seeing the places where protesters have called out George Floyd’s name is inspiring. It’s a long list, hundreds of places, from Alaska to Tasmania, South Africa to Finland. It’s striking how much the world pays attention to what goes on in America, and how little attention Americans pay to anyone else.

It is a heartwarming, tragic, stirring moment. We cannot forget, however, that there are powerful people working very hard to stop change from happening. Trump has blamed Martin Gugino, the protester knocked to the ground by police outfitted in riot gear in Buffalo for staging his own injury, insinuating that the elderly man is part of shadowy Antifa.[4] As he so often does, the president makes these suggestions using a technique tried-and-true by right-winged propagandists—the “expressed uncertainty” prompt of asking leading questions that plant the idea of culpability in the susceptible reader. The technique is not a Trump original, nor is the content. He pulled it from the One American Network, the conspiracy-hatching right-wing successor to Alex Jones’ Infowars. Gugino, in contrast to the president, has labored humbly for decades to feed the hungry, care for the poor, and advocate for the powerless.[5] In other words, while a Catholic peace worker is thrown to the ground and George Floyd’s body is laid to rest, the nation’s president repeats false narratives taken from a fringe media source. Remember that the police initially reported that Gugino had tripped and fallen. It was not until the video of him being shoved to the ground and then left unconscious bleeding on the ground, that the police were forced to change their tune. Trump has repeated a lie about a lie.[6]


[1] Yaron Steinbuch, “Ohio Protester Dies Two Days after Exposure to Tear Gas, Pepper Spray,” New York Post, June 9, 2020,; “Sarah Grossman Obituary – Franklin, OH,” Dignity Memorial, May 31, 2020,

[2] Stephanie Dube Dwilson, “#ForSarah Goes Viral As Columbus Officials Investigate Sarah Grossman’s Death,” Heavy.Com (blog), June 5, 2020,

[3] Jiachuan Wu et al., “Map of George Floyd Protests around the World,” NBC News, June 9, 2020,

[4] Inae Oh, “Trump Falsely Accuses an Elderly Buffalo Protester of Staging His Violent Police Encounter.,” Mother Jones (blog), June 9, 2020,

[5] Yonat Shimron, “Trump Tweeted about Martin Gugino. His Friends Say He Is a Catholic Peace Activist, Not an ‘Antifa Provocateur,’” Washington Post, June 9, 2020,

[6] Lili Loofbourow, “What the Video From Buffalo Has Revealed to White America,” Slate Magazine, June 9, 2020,

Read more


“Dr. Frank Leon Roberts on Black Protest & Defunding the Police,” Al Jazeera, June 9, 2020.

“George Floyd Funeral Service in Houston, TX,” CSPAN, June 9, 2020. ttps://

“Trump claims 75-year-old Buffalo protester ‘could be an ANTIFA provocateur’ as man remains hospitalized,” News 8 WROC, June 9, 2020.

“New details suggest Martin Gugino was intentionally provoking police,” One America News Network, June 9, 2020.

John Oliver, “OAN,” Last Week Tonight, April 6, 2020.

“George Floyd’s Impact on Houston’s Hip-Hop Scene Is Still Being Felt,” Vice News, June 9, 2020.

“Aerosols: Key to control the coronavirus spread? | COVID-19 Special,” DW News, June 9, 2020.


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Wu, Jiachuan, Savannah Smith, Joe Murphy, and Robin Muccari. “Map of George Floyd Protests around the World.” NBC News, June 9, 2020.
Loofbourow, Lili. “What the Video From Buffalo Has Revealed to White America.” Slate Magazine, June 9, 2020.
Nature Journal. “Systemic Racism: Science Must Listen, Learn and Change.” Nature 582, no. 7811 (June 9, 2020): 147–147.
Social Media

Demonstrators referencing this video from earlier in the week:

Additional Links

* Timeline summaries at the top of the page come from a variety of sources:, including The American Journal of Managed Care COVID-19 Timeline (, the Just Security Group at the NYU School of Law (, the “10 Things,” daily entries from The Week (, as well as a variety of newspapers and television programs.