JSA Mourns the Passing of Floyd Black

Student speaking at a microphone for a high school democracy event.

Floyd Black was a member of the Alliance Neuwirth Chapter of JSA. He attended both Georgetown Summer School, and JSA’s AP US History Program at UVA. Alliance Neuwirth won Chapter of the Year in Southern California in Floyd’s Senior Year, as well as being named National Chapter of the Year. Floyd was an exceptional young man, full of passion, humor and good will.

He earned a B.A. in History from UVA, and was enrolled in the Master’s Degree Program in Public Policy at Pepperdine at the time of his death. Floyd touched many of us in the JSA Organization. He was a very special young man. We reached out to one of Floyd’s Deans at UVA and asked her to write a few sentences about Floyd. This is what she sent us.

“Like all of those who knew Floyd, I was devastated to learn of his tragic death. I was Floyd’s academic dean at the University of Virginia, from which he graduated in 2019 with a BA in History. In two decades of teaching, no student has made a deeper impression on me than Floyd. Our conversations ran the gamut—history, social justice, philosophy, literature—and swung from the abstract and intellectual to the concrete and personal. Floyd was open and honest. He was willing to engage in the hard work of self-examination and was courageous in articulating values and standards for himself and his associates. Beyond his intellectual gifts, Floyd brought life and light to every room. Nothing could cheer my day like his appearance in my office doorway, bringing the gifts of his bright smile, witty reflections, and infectious good humor. When Floyd graduated I believed he was launched onto a path where he would do great and good things. The loss to his family, his friends, and those whose lives he would have touched, is incalculable.”

Dean Erin Lovenia Eaker, University of Virginia

We also reached out to JSA Alum, Professor Vanessa Tyson. Here are her words:

“I find myself wracked with grief from the unexpected loss of Floyd Black, a young man with a smile that lit up any room. His warmth was uniquely his own. His heart, which he occasionally wore on his sleeve, was larger than life.

Over the years, Floyd and I had long conversations about a wide range of topics—from structural racism and mental health to the heartache of being Black in the United States and the pain that accompanies childhood trauma and adverse experiences. Some of these conversations took place during long walks in Southern California, others took place during regular video chats while he completed his studies at the University of Virginia.

Floyd possessed an endless thirst for knowledge and understanding of the world around him. We talked about emotional intelligence, empathy, and the insidious nature of destructive thoughts and emotions. On many occasions, I tried to help him make sense of the senseless horrors we witness every day, or how easily people can be manipulated by those in positions of power. He hated injustice and repeatedly proved himself to be a fiercely loyal friend.

Floyd Black deserved so much more than this society afforded him, and yet in his 23 years, he impacted innumerable people with his many talents and gifts. Floyd offered his truth, honesty, and passion every day. His life, his intellect, and his capacity for love were gifts that we should all treasure as we try to move forward without him and make sense of this senseless tragedy.”

Vanessa Catherine Tyson

Associate Professor of Politics

Scripps College


October 07, 2020