On April 20, 2021, cheers erupted from George Floyd Square as a guilty verdict in former police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial was announced. The square was full of relief and joy. In the crowd was Feven Gerezgiher, a young reporter for Racial Reckoning.
Racial Reckoning is an independent community journalism initiative, founded in March 2021, focusing on BIPOC voices and stories. It was created to cover the trials of the former Minneapolis police officers who were involved in the murder of George Floyd. Its website includes daily updates, weekly community recaps and podcasts centered around racial justice.
Gerezgiher spent time volunteering in East Africa, where she tutored, taught English and helped with afterschool programming. While in East Africa, she enjoyed learning more about her culture and her history, as well as spending time with her extended family. She was enthusiastic about absorbing her Eritrean culture.
Gerezgiher speaks fondly of her parents’ home country of Eritrea, which was granted independence from Ethiopia in 1991 after many years of struggle. Gerezgiher partially attributes the success of the country’s revolution to the way that “there’s always been a spirit of, ‘How can we make our community better?’”
That spirit of helping your community is what Gerezgiher’s passion stems from. She practices her activism in the Twin Cities by attending many protests and working to enact change on various fronts.
One of those fronts was as field director for a local city council member’s campaign in 2017. She was proud to work for a grassroots candidate who was doing very progressive work. he was ecstatic that she helped get the council member elected and contributed to shifting policies for the better on the local level.
“It was a really good example of how the change that we want to see has to start at a very micro level,” she said. “These are your neighbors and your community members, and it is the individual relationships that lead to systemic change.”
This experience allowed her to use her skills to enact change, especially in her position at Racial Reckoning.
Gerezgiher didn’t envision going into journalism. She hadn’t had any experience in the field since her involvement in the ThreeSixty Journalism program at the University of St. Thomas during her time in high school.
She was growing increasingly angry with her hometown in 2020 due to racial inequalities and police brutality when ThreeSixty Journalism reached out to her. They were looking to connect program alumni with a new project called Racial Reckoning that was going to cover the court trials for the police officers involved in the death of George Floyd.
She signed onto the project despite her lack of experience in the field. Since then, she has enjoyed having her passion for activism intertwined with her job. She mostly works on creating short daily updates aired on AMPERS stations and other affiliated programs across the country. However, her new job has not come without its challenges.
Gerezgiher recalls the week Daunte Wright was killed during an encounter with a police officer as the most difficult week of being a reporter.
“It was challenging, just as an individual and as a reporter, to sit through [Daunte’s family’s press conference]. That was a hard moment for all of us. But then to deal with the very real grief of his family and to figure out how to translate that into a very short update was something that I had to sit with,” Gerezgiher said.
Wright’s murder fell on the heels of Floyd’s, which followed so many others. These police killings have caused irreversible pain to BIPOC communities and the country.
“The pain of the past year is being forgotten. I hope people continue to remember that people are tracking these issues and they haven’t been forgotten,” Gerezgiher said.