Jasper and Waller Counties are recognized in Texan ghost stories as hallowed ground: They represent the final resting places of James Byrd Jr. and Sandra Bland, where their spirits left their bodies and their blood married the earth. When George Floyd took his last breath thousands of miles away from the Lone Star State, the ascension of his soul rippled throughout the collective psyches of Black Texans who had to witness the death of a family member from afar.
As loved ones migrated to Houston Memorial Gardens for his funeral, others marked his legacy through song. "Just as Abel's blood was crying out to God, George Floyd is crying out to me," wrote Leon Bridges. "So, I present to you, 'Sweeter.'" Bridges's new song addresses the historic wounds of white supremacy upon the heart in a soft and delicate voice that chastises the removal of George Floyd from his community like God proclaimed to Cain. "Hoping for a life more sweeter / Instead, I'm just a story repeating," Bridges sings.
Every death caused by state violence is an omen of America's failure to repent for slavery, its original sin. Until the words of Martin Luther King Jr. ring true, Leon Bridges's lyrics allude to the sweet voices of "my sisters and brothers" and tears of "mothers" that will carry out the stories of fallen family members in folklore, not unlike Bridges's contribution to Texan ghost stories.