Georgia lawmakers establish Feb. 23 as Ahmaud Arbery Day 

The inaugural Ahmaud Arbery Day will be marked with prayer vigils and memorial events, including a sponsored run.

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Today marks the second anniversary of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and as the three men who killed him have been convicted on both the state and federal level, lawmakers in the state of Georgia are working to honor this 25-year-old victim of a modern-day lynching. 

House Resolution 688, which honors Arbery as one of its most distinguished citizens, passed earlier this year. The bill designates February 23 as an annual day of recognition for Arbery, who was shot and killed by Travis McMichael, his father, retired Brunsick police officer Gregory McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan

A demonstrator holds a sign at the Glynn County Courthouse in Oct. 2021 as jury selection began in the trial of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

All three men have been convicted of murder by the state of Georgia and of federal hate crimes by the U.S. government. 

The inaugural day will be marked with prayer vigils and memorials, The Washington Post reports. Since Arbery was killed as he jogged through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, the state’s legislature is also encouraging 2.23-mile runs in his memory. A sponsored run will be held today in Arbery’s honor, as will a walk through the neighborhood where he was killed. 

The Ahmaud Arbery Foundation, which was established by Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, is encouraging supporters to “pause” for 23 seconds in memory of her son or to make a $23 donation to the foundation, which supports Black boys and young men by helping streamline their access to mental health resources. 

Cooper-Jones, who will be speaking in Atlanta to mark the tragic anniversary, has been a champion for her son since his murder. During the victim’s impact statement at the sentencing of the trio convicted of his murder, she said, “Today I laid you to rest. I told you, I love you. And someday, somehow I would get you justice. Son, I love you as much today as I did [the] day that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life, and I’m very proud of you.”

Birgit Smith Burton, the chair of the foundation, told The Washington Post that the holiday designation is an “honorable gesture,” calling it a “step in the right direction for the state of Georgia.”

“We are grateful for the leaders,” she added, “who are using their position and influence to ensure that Georgia does what’s right in memory of Ahmaud.”

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