June 15, 2020
Alumni Experiences, News
My name is Angel Floyd and I traveled in Cast D 1986.
A name you know, a man who has come to mean so much to so many (not only across my country but around the world) is my cousin: George Floyd. He was killed by a police officer three weeks ago at only 46 years old.
His grandfather and my grandfather were twins. As I’ve grown up and throughout my life, our Floyd-Jackson family unit has remained strong. But losing George, so unexpectedly and violently, has left us in anguish.
We’re still grieving. We’re dealing with not only our grief, but the horrible things people are saying about my cousin.
I log onto Facebook and am hit with messages from so-called friends, colleagues and even relatives that leave me feeling more hurt and confused. People who do not know my cousin are using his name to justify whatever cause they deem important right now…
My family is hurting. We are in pain. And, yes, we are deeply saddened.
However: We do not, in any form, condone violence or looting done in my family’s name. We need to maintain our focus on the common goal of eliminating inequality of all forms.
When I traveled in UWP 34 years ago, I befriended my cast mates from 17 different countries all around the world. My UWP experience, and the love I experienced in that year, is very important to me.
Up with People is about building bridges of education for people of all nations. I’m disheartened, disappointed and discouraged by the response I’ve seen from some fellow alumni and other friends and colleagues in my circle.
What many don’t understand is how different day-to-day life can be for anyone who doesn’t fit the majority—the number of second glances, people thinking they need to keep an eye on me, and normal interactions that turn sour—it’s tiring, it’s daily, and been so far ever-present in my life.
This is where our focus needs to be: How do we help others understand our plight? And how do we ensure this pain, this emotion many of us feel right now, is not temporary? We can’t move away from this hurt now that our fire is ignited…
Where do we go from here?
This is a rhetorical question; I don’t have the answer. But I want to urge my fellow alumni to ask themselves this same question. Continue to live out what we learned in Up with People: It’s not just a trip you went on for six or 12 months when you were younger.
We all can and should be doing something each day from this point forward to eliminate inequality wherever we see it. Not passively, but actively.
Personally, we should be gathering and remembering my cousin peacefully, and yet people who never met George are using him to make their own statements and cause further devastation to people’s lives and livelihoods. This needs to stop; it’s gone too far and does not help our cause.
As an alumni family, let’s stay focused on the real issues and come together to denounce inequality of all forms.
We will live the world we want to see into existence.
Angel is a rodeo philanthropist, professional speaker and businesswoman who cultivated her rodeo production company, C91, which began with barrel racing and developed into being a rodeo stock contractor. You can read more about Angel on her website.
Hi Angel. Your message moved me to tears. I was reading it out loud to my husband and have such a lump in my throat. I traveled in 1967-69 in Cast A and remember so distinctly our five busloads arriving in the South and seeing for the first time with my 16-year-old eyes (from Seattle) three bathrooms. Many of us simply stood and cried. It was unimaginable to us that there was such a thing as segregation. Many from my alumni age group feel so sad that what we thought we were changing for the positive in the world with our music and dedication has, in fact, simply been simmering for all these 55 years. Because we loved each other no matter what race or creed, it has helped all of us to be better people. Just like the more current UWP Song’s lyrics of “One to One we change the world by giving to each other, a helping hand along the way” inspire all of us on a daily basis. I am so sorry for your loss, but so encouraged that his death will not be in vain as the entire WORLD has now awakened to this severe race issue that we MUST solve. Stay strong and safe and know that you are loved.
Angel, I traveled in 74’ A. I am inspired and moved by your words . My Heart goes out to you and your family .
I also remember the message we were pouring out to the world in 74’-75’. We touched a lot of souls and although every person who was impacted by our message and the show was important, it just wasn’t enough to move the needle. I have become complacent as I move through life and don’t strive everyday to make a difference. I think back to the words we sang back then and they mean even more today. The Colwells, Herbie and the gang sure knew what they were writing about. Makes me want to put the show back on the road and spread that simple message. I thank you for speaking up and speaking out. I will do the same .
Thanks so much for sharing. I’m truly sorry for the loss of your cousin and I can’t imagine what you must be going through. I just want you to know that because of your cousin, I am inspired to do better and to do more. All these years I thought I was doing “enough” but I know now that it’s not true. I’m a language arts teacher and starting in the fall, I’ll adopt an anti-racist curriculum. George Floyd’s name will never be forgotten. Sending you love and peace. – Beth B’93
Thank you Angel for sharing. So incredibly saddened and horrified by George’s murder and all the other deaths of melanated people. So glad to know you and to have traveled with you. Sending you all light and love.
Hello Angel I am glad you shared your thoughts. I traveled in 1972B, 48 years ago and thought that I/we were making a difference. I have gone to live these concepts and ideals and am crushed to realize that we have made so little progress — some but not enough. On Sunday I spoke to our congregation about racial equality and of course ended with “What color is God’s skin?” I was playing the 50 top songs disc and my husband listening commented on how many of the songs pertained so aptly to what is going on right now. I nodded, and said, I know, and the fight continues. The Methodist church conference in Washington/Baltimore have had training for protestors and have scheduled about a half dozen events in Baltimore and Washington, DC Our bishop, Dr. Easterling is a very dynamic woman and is leading the charge. I am glad to be “back in the saddle” and fighting for what we all believe in the UWP family. Best wishes to you and your family.
Angel, I’m so sorry for your loss. And, I’m especially sorry that people have deepened your pain with thoughtless comments, as you and your family are grieving. Thank you for your call to work together peacefully to denounce inequality in all its forms, and the challenge to try to do something that makes a difference, every day. I’m taking your challenge seriously, starting with examining my own white privilege. I’m an educator, and am looking hard at how to create a more inclusive and equitable learning community for my classes. I know that this is only a start, but it is a first step.
Thank you, Angel
Like you it saddens me to see alumni not thinking or being what they learned in UWP !! But hopefully its few!! I travelled in 67-69 and 74-78
One of my most vivid experience was performing in the streets of WATTS during the riots!! Wish today we still could do that!! I would have loved to join a demonstration and a bunch of alumni would sing our songs!!
Your words are wonderful!! So sorry for your loss!!! “Can we Sing a “Song of Peace” Let’s hope all this will take us to some PEACE!!!
BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!!
Belén Dávila Graham
Dear Angel, I am deeply touched by you sharing your heart with your UWP family. I am so devastated by your cousin’s death and send my deepest sympathy and condolences to you and your family. His death is such a tragic and unnecessary one and I am beyond angered and disappointed with the law enforcement community but have hope that we will unite as a nation. This is the UWP spirit in light of some of the alumni who may have shown you any disrespect that you and your family do not deserve. I am truly sorry for that. We are many, We are one my dear. xo
Gurlllllllll….Angel…where do I begin. First of all, my heart breaks for you and yours. I can’t tell you how ironic it is to read your post after telling a friend of mine about a question posed earlier today by a sister alum of Cast E’83. Won’t go into details of that here but what struck me is that though her query left me drained, she was the first and only alumni from my cast who has reached out at all. Her question led me to bop over to our private group – which I hadn’t visited in a long time. Over there, it was as though the last three weeks hadn’t happened at all. Not one mention about the murders, protests, or incredible changes taking place right now in our world. I will say that much of the looting was not done by those protesting in your cousin’s name. A bodyguard for the pastor of Agape Spiritual Center, was a one-man security force protecting his neighborhood. He went live on FB to show that those looting an area near his LA home were white suburban kids out for “fun.” Even the mainstream media, which rarely reports truth, admitted that many of those looting were paid agitators and organized gangs taking advantage of police attention diverted elsewhere. I’m only saying this to say that the majority of those marching are because they want, need, must see positive change. Because they understand that white silence condones violence (or put another way, silence is consent), and that they’ve decided to be a part of the solution, instead of the problem. With all of that said, I understand why buildings are burning. After almost 500 years of systemic oppression, and Black men being hunted down like animals and killed in broad daylight with witnesses and cameras rolling, your cousin’s murder broke the straw on the camel’s back. Drastic times call for drastic measures. I don’t believe we would have seen the progress that’s happened in your cousin’s case had cities not burned. America is a violent country, built on the blood of men and women who look like you and me. Virtually every step of progress made came at the cost of innocent lives. Sadly, it is a language those in authority understand and, honestly, shook the world out of a stupor. The earth is tired of this human madness and in no uncertain terms is demanding that we WAKE UP!!! Your cousin’s transition is part of the spark for a massive change that was destined to happen. It is literally written in the stars. Without getting too woo-woo or putting on my Light Coach hat, I’ll say that this darkest hour is before the dawn of our new earth. The old paradigm is over, that which has been hidden is about to be revealed, and those in power for the past 6,000 years will not concede their position without a fight. But be assured, dear sister, Love and Light win!!! I stand in solidarity with you, your family, friends, and community, and send you a great big virtual hug through this difficult time.
Thanks for your inspiring words Angel. Prayers from Italy for you and your family
Thanks for your words! I’m so incredible saddened about what happened to your cousin and I never watched the full video. I just can’t see it. It’s hurting so much!
I called my self a not racism person, working with immigrants in the age of 17-19, but I do have to admit, that I sometimes “fall” into prejudices. And that shouldn’t happen!!
For me, I had the chance to experience a very special situation, during my UwP time.
I’m white, I’m from Germany and I was 20 years old.
We’ve stayed in Mississippi or Louisiana and I was the only student in my host family. And it was a black family. And I was so happy, because it was the first (and only) time in that year. I’ve never been so close to poc (beside my fellow students in the cast) and had always the thought in my mind “everybody is the same”. So I just felt this is great!
But they lived in a typical black neighborhood (why are there black neighborhoods I should ask now!!!???) and I realized while driving with “my” family in the car, the (black) neighbors all looked at my and I think they’ve thought, ‘why is this white girl with them?’. And in the Restaurant and had the feeling, that others would look, why a young white girl is with a black family.
Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t but I do know how it feels!!!!!
So, the others made me thinking of this, even though, I wasn’t . I was just happy to have a kind and nice hostfamily – no matter what color their skin has!!
So my goal is, to remember this very special memory more often, when I happen to “fall” into prejudice. (And I should try to find that family, as I always thought of that nice stay there.)
Thank you Angel for opening up to us and I’m grieving with you. Here in Germany it took many people by shock how your cousin George was murdered and thousands did get together to protest against racism which is also a problem here. My thoughts are with you and your family and I hope that not only you and your family but also the world will be healing through the tragic death of George. Sending my love, Jasmin cast B 90/91
I love you dearly and am truly heartbroken about your family’s loss! The violence in the name of your cousin George is inexplicable, and I am sure devastating to your family. I am sorry for the insensitivity of others. I hope your eloquent words will implore the change we desire. God bless you and your entire family Angel I hope to see you at our reunion next summer:)
Hello Angel. Very nice to meet you, So sorry for your loss of George.
I know that you were in UWP as well and read your intensely inspiring message. My name is Reggie Lee Paulk, an African American, residing in Mexico for over 25 years now.
I had the wonderful privilege of travelling in UWP, cast “C” 1982/83. It was by far the highlight of my life that changed me to an extinct that since then, I have opened up to be able to reside in other countries without pause. Dominican Republic, Canada, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Cuba, apart from being born in Chicago and studying in Arkansas and NYC.
You have no idea how much I relate to your message about discrimination (after having lived it first hand in the deep south of the USA and remnants of its suppression in each and every country in which I have lived, even in home during our UWP tour) which is heartbreaking.
In 2020 it almost seems as though we are in a retrocession bubble. Alarmingly sad. After having learned 5 languages, it additionally allows you literally see things through others eyes. Reminds me of the song “Someone else’s eyes” that we sang.
Being Black and Gay caused double trauma in certian occasions. Those of us alumni of UWP must stand up and speak out for equality, Otherwise, what did we learn, what was the purpose of our experiences, messages,or literal formations of International family’s. People from all walks of life who touch your heart for a lifetime. We all have a voice and I don’t believe that judging is correct, however, investing that same energy with understanding and kind words of love may be more beneficial.
Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been trying to think of a way to encourage others to be opened minded, understanding and open for change. Reading your story and how you view the reaction, your understanding and what you would like to happen going forward show poise and strength. It made me think about traveling with UWP and all we tried to share with the world about being accepting of others and treating everyone the way we would like to be treated. I pray for all of us to continue our experience of UWP to help the world change for the better. This whole experience has made me want to sing :What Color is God’s Skin from my travel year of ’82-’83D. Peace be with you and your family.
Dear Angel, I am so sorry for the sadness you are feeling, not only because of the loss of your cousin but because of the way he died and the subsequent riots. I am in Ireland and the horrific way he died has shocked the world. I hope that his death will lead to something positive and that it will help people the world over to understand that we are all God’s children and God doesn’t categorise us by our skin colour, our religion, our sexual orientations but loves us all equally. It is a pity that humankind cannot do the same. Our world seems to be moving in the wrong direction and hatred of anyone who is different seems to be on the increase. I travelled in 81/82 and was shocked with the amount of racism in the US. I don’t think things have improved too much since then. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your extended family.
Oh, Angel! Thank you for sharing with us. My heart breaks for you and your family. You will continue to be in my heart, thoughts and prayers. May a positive change somehow come out of this tragedy. Cast C ’86-87 was my traveling year. As others have mentioned above, we too, sang What Color is God’s Skin. That song continues to impact me on a daily basis! May the Peace of the Lord surround you and your family and bring you healing!
Angela….thank you for being Candid, Honest, and Sincere. Like you my UWP (86C) is very near and dear to me. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers!
Angel, your words are compelling and reflect a spirit and understanding of the world we have now come to know. For those of us who have journeyed alongside fellow UWP Alumni, myself include in 1976, we got a glimpse how we are truly one people … and yes, without having been in one’s shoes, we are limited in our ability to fully understand lives outside our own. So we must continue to listen to the voices around us and be ever vigilant to speak in truths, without violence, and push humanity forward to the place where we are at peace and able to celebrate those things that do make us different. I’m 64 years young now, married to a woman of color with a biracial daughter. My perspective is still far from understanding what you and your family are now enduring. But I will follow your guidance and make a conscious effort everyday to actively change the status quo. We are now more than 50,000 UWP Alumni with the knowledge and strength to change a few things. Imagine the collective impact we could have … all because of George, your letter, and our hearts. God bless.
Cast A 2010
Thank you for Sharing Angel.. The flame will not die out and I will continue to support and help to make change in this world. IM so sorry of what you and your family and many others that have had such tragic losses due to brutality and injustice are feeling. My heart aches for the next generation. My condolences and prayers goes to you my love ????????❤️
Thank you for your powerful message. We as a society have a lot of work to do to close the gap permanently on social and racial injustice. I don’t know what the answer is but I know that I need to listen more to what is being said and talk less. I have always tried to live a live of inclusiveness and equality with everyone I am around. I traveled in Cast E 84 and during my travel year, I learned about, interacted with, and stayed with people of all races and cultures. My year helped me to appreciate every race and culture. To this day, I have maintained that same attitude. I challenge all UWP alumni to start listening more and talking less as this is what is going to change the attitudes and perceptions we have as a society. We cannot and should not forget about the past but it is how we talk about the past with our younger generations that is going to determine whether or not we can change as a society . If we speak about the past and say nothing about how wrong it was, then we are not going to move forward. If we talk about the past and recognize the injustice then maybe we can finally accept how wrong it was. UWP has the power and certainly enough voices to not only start the conversations but also to affect real and positive changes so that everyone of every color, race, background, sexual orientation can feel as important, equal and respected and not judged. In any way. Are the UWP alumni ready to start the conversation? I really hope so . Our platform and our voices are strong. Let’s get it done !!
Thank you, Angel.
wow Angel. I am speechless. I am so very sorry for your loss…and so touched by your reflections and challenge. We cannot forget and let the BLM movement slip from our view. Thank you for this profound reminder.