Rally Inspires Local Students to Fight for Justice

Philonese Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, spoke to 1000 students at the Student Resiliency Pep Rally on Friday, Nov. 12.

Tamir Wright
Data News Weekly Contributor

Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, visited New Orleans to inspire local students at the Student Resiliency Pep Rally on Friday, Nov. 12th held at Xavier University of Louisiana’s Convocation Center. Floyd continues to keep the memory of his brother George Floyd alive, after his death in 2020 sparked protests and conversations about police brutality all across the country and the globe. He now travels the nation speaking to young students about his brother’s story in hopes of inspiring them to become the leaders of tomorrow.

“It’s hurting me to have this conversation because I think about how young you all are, but the fact that I had to get out and I had to speak because it’s the younger generation that’s gonna change this world,” Philonise Floyd told the students.

“The fact that if it weren’t for you all getting out protesting and speaking, we wouldn’t be able to have this conversation today. My brother would just be another dead person, on a shirt, and people would still be worrying about what’s going on in America,” Floyd shared in his remarks.

InspireNOLA Charter Schools and the Alliance for Diversity and Excellence organized the student rally as a part of their Resiliency Series. On Nov. 11th, Floyd also spoke to the public at McDonogh 35 Senior High School. On the Friday, over one thousand students were able to listen to inspirational messages from several speakers including Philonise Floyd.

“You too can do whatever it is that you put your mind and heart to do,” said Gregoire Tillery, the owner of the popular local restaurant We Dat’s Chicken and Shrimp. Tillery spoke about his hardships as a youth and how he got his business started despite setbacks at the beginning of his life. He encouraged students to never give up and work hard. “You have to be resilient,” Tillery added.

C. Armant, the CEO of BAMM Communications shared with students how to stay dedicated in order to reach their goals.

“I want everyone to repeat after me: ‘I was created for a reason. I was created with a purpose and no one, or nothing will take my purpose away,’” said Armant, as the students in the crowd recited his words of encouragement.

“Remember to keep going and to never give up,” Armant added.

Floyd shared with the crowd of students about the events surrounding the death of his brother, George Floyd. He said he wanted to stop the cycle of Black men being killed by police officers in America.

“He was crying out loud for help and nobody helped him.” Philonise Floyd said while describing the details of George Floyd’s tragic death. He told the crowd how life has been for him since the tragic event. “I think about the empty seats at the table, and it’s not due to COVID. It’s due to my brother being murdered.”

Floyd advocated for police reform and encouraged students to continue their efforts in school and grow up to be the reason for the change that is needed in the world.

“Nearly an entire incident was captured on video in broad daylight and despite it [not] being a deadly crime, the officers still used deadly force. So, I need all y’all to wake up and understand that I need you all to be leaders. I need you all to go off in the future and become elected officials,” Floyd said.

Floyd ended his speech at the pep rally with a powerful image of him and the crowd of students raising their fists up in solidarity with each other. He advocated for the protection of marginalized people in America and once again encouraged the students to continue with their education.

“If they can make federal laws to protect a bird, which is the bald eagle, they can make federal laws to protect people of color,” Floyd said.

Photos courtesy InspireNOLA Schools and Xavier University.

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