The murder of George Floyd

How the Spokesman-Recorder is covering the Chauvin trial from the Black perspective

A woman stands with her baby while viewing memorials dedicated to George Floyd in front of the entrance of Cup Foods, the site where George Floyd died.
A woman stands with her baby while viewing memorials dedicated to George Floyd in front of the entrance of Cup Foods, the site where George Floyd died.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Just half a mile from the Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd died last summer, a small team of journalists covered the story as it evolved from neighborhood news to a global movement.

Now, the journalists of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder are covering the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer who is on trial on charges of murder and manslaughter in George Floyd's death. The Spokesman-Recorder is a newspaper for Minnesota's Black community, by Minnesota's Black community.

It's one of the longest-standing family-run papers in the country — a byproduct of two newspapers created in 1934 by CEO and publisher Tracey Williams-Dillard's grandfather that eventually merged into one.

What sets the paper apart from other outlets, Williams-Dillard explains, is the Spokesman-Recorder's ability to chronicle history from the Black perspective.

"There's a lot of people that don't hear our voices unless we exist. So, they can't understand the pain, or, or the joy that we as African Americans experience if we're not here to tell the story," she tells NPR's All Things Considered.

"They're not giving it from the perspective where, maybe, George Floyd's family and us all live," she adds.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview highlights

Tell us about how the journalists of the Spokesman-Recorder are approaching this story of George Floyd's death and Derek Chauvin's trial. Is there something different that you think the Spokesman-Recorder brings to the coverage of this story from all the other organizations?

I've watched some of the national news or even in the local news and maybe they don't feel the Black perspective as we do. And I think the African American perspective is like — it's like you're living it. It's your daily life.

And I don't know that other medias look at it that way. They're looking at it as news, and we're looking at it as like, we deal with this daily.

We are afraid of our Black kids, of our babies going out there and and being mistreated. I don't want to see my grandkids go out there and have a cop on his neck. I don't want to see that. But that's our reality, that's how we're living right now.

What do you think your grandfather Cecil Newman, the paper's founder, would make of this moment in the United States?

I can't even begin to wonder what he would think. He would be disheartened, as all of us are. He would hope that this would not be a thing that we have to deal with. It's the legacy of a Black man being killed, kneeled on by a white man on his neck. He would be devastated, as I am.

He would hope that even in his time, at that time he would have hoped that things had gotten better and not still the same.

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