On June 1, Terry Willis took to Facebook to share that he, as a Black man, felt obligated to make a change and help create a better future for his son. On Sunday, a month later, the 35-year-old business owner completed a 1,000-mile walk from his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama to the site of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
"Watching him get murdered, I felt like that was the last straw and I needed to do something,” Willis told MPR News. “And as one man I felt like I wanted to do something drastic to get the attention and the awareness on the change that we need, so I decided to walk a thousand miles across the country.”
Willis posted updates along his trek to his Facebook page, which as of Monday morning had more than 40,000 followers. He made stops along the way to honor Black man and women he believes were victims of police violence and racial injustice, including Floyd in Houston, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago.
A crowd gathered outside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota Sunday morning to meet Willis and join him on the final leg of his journey. A few hours later, they reached the intersection where Floyd was killed.
He left his shoes at the memorial, according to MPR News.
Willis has also raised $41,000 of his $50,000 goal to start a nonprofit, according to a GoFundMe page. He wrote in a Facebook post that the organization will teach people with criminal records and juveniles a trade, like barbering or carpentry, to help them open their own businesses.
"I say do what you have to do to make sure your voice is heard," Willis wrote in a Facebook post announcing his plans. "In 1965 MLK marched to Selma for us to have the right to vote. In 2020 I Terry Willis will walk from Alabama to Minnesota for our right to be seen as equals."