Waynel Sexton taught Floyd, who she says went by his middle name, Perry, at the time, at Frederick Douglass Elementary School in Texas. For 38 years, she held onto one particular essay and drawing of his that she’s now sharing with the world in the wake of his death.
“One of my favorite memories of Perry involves his report for Black History Month,” Sexton told CNN. “Each day in the month of February, we studied a different famous Black American, and as a culmination to that study, I posed the question to my students: How will you impact the future? What will you do to make a difference?”
The students went on to write essays called “Future Famous Americans,” where they talked about what they wanted to do in the world one day.
“When I grow up, I want to be a Supreme Court judge. When people say, ‘Your Honor, he did rob the bank, I will say, ‘Be seated,’” wrote an 8-year-old Floyd. “And if he doesn’t, I will tell the guard to take him out. Then I will beat my hammer on the desk. Then every body will be quiet.”
Sexton had nothing but positive things to say in regards to the time she spent with Floyd when he was a child.
She described him as a quiet kid who didn’t talk a lot.
“We did a lot of singing and dancing in our classroom, and he enjoyed a lot of that,” she said. “He enjoyed his friends. And he was a good boy. He was a delight to have in the classroom.”
When asked how she felt when she realized the man whose name sparked protests across the world was one of her former students, Sexton replied that it invoked “a really deep down sadness.”
“And my heart breaks for his family. And, you know, how could we have known that the little boy who, the little 8-year-old who drew this precious, delightful picture about justice and wanting to be a justice, 38 years later, would be— his life would be taken?” she asked. “Sadly, I’m sure this isn’t the way that he envisioned being famous or bringing justice.”
This relic of Floyd’s past caused a new wave of grief at the injustice of his death.
And while Floyd’s death at the hands of police was unquestionably something that never should have happened, people are holding on to the one shred of hope that, even though that 8-year-old didn’t grow up to be on the Supreme Court, his name will come to be forever entangled with the moments that finally led to change in a horribly unjust system.