Celebrities urge togetherness and love as they speak out after the death of George Floyd

By Zach Harper

On May 25, George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, died after an incident with police. Protests have erupted across the United States and around the world, with people demanding justice.

Many celebrities have used the moment to join the demonstrations and also take to social media with messages calling for togetherness and change. Here are some of those who've spoken out over the last few days and what they've said.

Barack and Michelle Obama

The 44th U.S. President and former First Lady said they were feeling awful about what had happened to George, too.

"Like so many of you, I'm pained by these recent tragedies," Michelle wrote. "And I'm exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop."

She urged anyone reading her message to do "uncomfortable work" toward addressing racism in America and around the world.

"It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own," she said. "It ends with justice, compassion and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray that we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us."

Photo: © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Barack, meanwhile, wrote a lengthy essay entitled "How to Make This Moment the Turning Point for Real Change."

"I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting – that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life," he wrote. "But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation's long journey to live up to our highest ideals."

Beyoncé and Jay-Z

In a video on Instagram, the superstar addressed George's death, saying she was speaking to everybody, and said everyone was likely feeling "hopeless" at what was happening.

"We're broken and we're disgusted. We cannot normalize this pain," Beyoncé said. "We can no longer look away. George is all of our family in humanity. He's our family because he's a fellow American."

Jay-Z used his time to call Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and urge him to "prosecute all those responsible" for what happened to George to "the fullest extent of the law."

"I prevail on every politician, prosecutor and officer in the country to have the courage to do what is right," he said. "Have the courage to look at us as humans, dads, brothers, sisters, and mothers in pain. And look at yourselves."

Oprah

The former talk show host and lifestyle maven said her heart was "sinking" when thinking about what happened to George, saying she couldn't get the images she'd seen in video of George's death out of her head.

Photo: © Theo Wargo/Getty Images

"I've been trying to process what can be said or heard in this moment," Oprah said on Instagram. "His family and friends say he was a gentle giant. His death has how shown us he had a giant soul. If the largeness of your soul is determined by its sphere of influence, George Floyd is a Mighty soul. #GeorgeFloyd: We speak your name. But this time we will not let your name be just a hashtag. Your spirit is lifted by the cries of all of us who call for justice in your name!"

In a separate video chat with Gayle King, Oprah opened up, saying, "I do not know a Black man period who has not been profiled, including Stedman Graham."

Ciara

The mom of two, who has another baby on the way, posted a selfie with her son, Future, as she spoke out about George Floyd.

"My sweet Baby Boy. I pray that when you get older A CHANGE will finally have come!!" she wrote in the caption for the image, which shows the two smiling at the camera. "I'm going to keep my FAITH! I'm praying that the losses of our Black Kings and Queens won't be in vain. Enough is Enough! I'm praying for UNITY! I'm praying for the powers that be to unite and decide that it's time for a change!"

Jennifer Lopez

Sharing a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote from his "I have a dream" speech, Jennifer Lopez also encouraged her fans to take action.

"We need to love and appreciate all the beautiful things that every individual person is," she on Instagram. "There are more of us who live a life of love and acceptance than those who live in rage and hate. Do not let the angry, and hateful win!! Say something. Do something. Let's build bridges, no burn them... We need to speak up and speak love. Every chance we get..."

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively

Taking to Instagram, the two stars said they had been doing a lot of thinking about George's death and things they haven't experienced before in their lives.

"We've been teaching our children differently than the way our parents taught us," they wrote. "We want to educate ourselves about other people's experiences and talk to our kids about everything, all of it... especially our own complicity.

Ryan and Blake with their daughters James and Ines in 2016. They've since had a third child. Photo: © Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

"We talk about our bias, blindness and our own mistakes. We look back and see so many mistakes which have led us to deeply examine who we are and who we want to become. They've led us to huge avenues of education.

"We're committed to raising our kids so they never grow up feeding this insane pattern and so they'll do their best to never inflict pain on another being consciously or unconsciously."

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