Recent Prosper graduates organize, lead peaceful protest

Lisa Ferguson
Prosper Press
The organizers of a peaceful protest June 9 that began outside Prosper High School pose for a photo with handmade signs prior to a march that was several miles long. From left are Emma Andersen, Ella Keffer, Nidhi Kamath, Victoria Evans, Mya Peterson, Joshua Graham and Mikayla Brown.

A second protest in less than a week took place in Prosper on June 9.

The event, which was organized by about a dozen people, began at Prosper High School and drew a couple hundred participants - many of them teens - who rallied over the death of George Floyd.

Floyd was killed May 25 by Minneapolis police, prompting protests and civil unrest throughout the nation in recent weeks.

Similar to a protest staged June 4 at the Gates of Prosper shopping center, the most recent event was an entirely peaceful one, for which members of the Prosper Police and Prosper ISD Police departments were also on hand.

Participants began gathering around 5 p.m. at the steps of the high school building. There, the group prayed and observed eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in memory of Floyd.

Emma Andersen, a recent Prosper High graduate, welcomed the crowd.

She encouraged protesters, many of whom were carrying homemade signs, to refrain from using profanity, derogatory messages or violence during the student-run, family friendly event.

Andersen thanked the participants “for being here to fight against the racism that is deeply rooted in our society.”

Prosper High School Principal Dr. John Burdett was among several Prosper ISD staffers at the event. He also addressed participants.

“One of the things that I love most about this is it’s from our young people. … We love supporting our kids and what is passionate with them,” Burdett said.

“Fortunately, we’re aligned perfectly. We are all outraged at what is going on and we’re here to support. … We are always Prosper, we are always one. We always go on one accord and we always fight things together.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed the campus in March, members of Prosper High School’s class of 2020, whose graduation ceremony was earlier this month, missed out participating in several traditional senior-year activities.

One of those was a celebratory “senior walk,” which recent graduate Mya Peterson said is meant to symbolize “everything that you want to do from this point on.”

Peterson was among those who helped organize the protest, which saw participants walk several miles along Prosper Trail in the late-afternoon heat.

“This is what we want our senior walk to be. This is how we want to be remembered. This is what we want the community to look like after we’re gone,” she said.

“We’re the youth and we deserve to let our voices be heard. If we don’t speak up, who else will? We’ve seen everyone before us, and the same problems are still happening. This is our time to speak up.”

Fellow 2020 graduate Victoria Evans, who also assisted in organizing the event, said, “We’re the future, so it’s our responsibility to make lives better for ourselves and for our children.”

She stressed the importance of staging a protest in Prosper, where explosive population growth is causing the town to become more diverse each day.

“A lot of times we think because we’re in a suburb and we’re kind of in this little bubble that it doesn’t apply to us,” Evans said, “but at the end of the day … there is more diversity coming, so we need to bring more education to this area. … We have to educate people, we have to spread awareness, we have to let people know that Prosper does stand for justice.”

Prosper High School Principal Dr. John Burdett, wearing a face mask, bows his head while observing eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence for George Floyd during a peaceful protest June 9 that was staged at the school. [Lisa Ferguson / Prosper Press]