Meet Andre Bush and Jeremy Robertson, two Navarre High School students who have organized several protests after the George Floyd murder.
NAVARRE – If there is one thing Andre Bush and Jeremy Robertson have learned from the Navy Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC), it’s how to be a leader.
When the two rising seniors at Navarre High School heard about Floyd’s death, they started planning a protest. Robertson, 17, saw the news of the murder just after reading about Amy Cooper, a white woman who called the police on a Black man bird-watching in Central Park in New York City.
"I saw the video and I was in shock," Robertson said. "In my mind, I was saying, ‘It happened again. An unarmed Black man was killed again.’"
Bush, 16, produces music and regularly speaks out for causes that matter to him.
"I’ve been making music and speaking for all these causes all this time, but I’ve never actually done anything," Bush said. "I looked at it and said, ‘I can’t just not do anything and keep expressing my opinions, but never standing for the thing I’m saying should be done.’"
The students posted the event information on social media, and it spread fast. Tons of their classmates, as well as adults, in the community showed up for their first protest and candlelight vigil June 3 at Navarre Park.
One person flipped them off during the protest, but most were supportive. Both said their parents were proud of their courage and impressed with the turnout.
"At the end, a lot of people congratulated us for these protests," Robertson said. "They thanked us. They were proud we did this."
But they weren’t done.
Since the first protest, they have hosted multiple protests in the same location to continue their mission for change. They also plan to host an educational event for children June 19 to talk about Juneteenth, a U.S. holiday that celebrates the emancipation from slavery.
"We can’t just protest once and leave it at that," Bush said. "I have to keep coming back until there’s change. What I would like to see is more accountability to be held for police officers – like how the military has for their soldiers; they should have something similar."
Bush has experienced racism a few times in his life – sometimes from other students.
"The thing is, I’m mixed," Bush said. "My dad’s Black and my mom’s white. I have white skin, but black hair – real thick curly hair … I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard monkey; I’ve heard cracker. I just shrug it off and don’t even worry about it. I know people like that, if they keep thinking like that, they’re never going to get anywhere in life."
Robertson shares Bush’s commitment to the cause.
"We want the U.S. government to change how it handles racial bias and racial injustice," Robertson said. "It’s 2020 and we still have these incidents … My brother always told me that my generation will lead us to the future. To be honest, he was right."