Seventeen years after graduating from Glenn High School, Nakeshia Collins was again decked out in a cap and gown, walking across the stage to collect a diploma.
This time around, Collins walked for her son, Jumil Robertson, who was shot to death last October.
He was 17 years old and a senior at Glenn with big dreams and hopes for the future. He wanted to graduate from high school, rap and flip houses.
“We also had conversations about college, whether a four-year college or a two-year college, to help him meet these goals,” Collins said. “His main focus was being able to provide for his son and making something out of his life. He wanted to be successful.”
Jumil’s son, Jesus Robertson, is 1 year old.
At last week’s drive-thru graduation ceremony at Glenn, Collins, in an orange cap and gown, propped little Jesus on her hip as she greeted staff members. A friend emblazoned a photo of Jumil on the back of her gown, a way to make his presence felt. In the photo, Jumil smiles through a halo.
It’s not the way Collins imagined she would mark the graduation of her oldest child.
“Jumil was a very loving child,” Collins said. “He had a caring heart and a good soul.”
Jumil was a rambunctious child who liked making people smile. He loved music, football and dancing.
As a little boy, he wanted to be a pro wrestler, Collins recalled.
Jumil was killed during a rash of violence in Winston-Salem in October 2019. On Oct. 17, around 10:30 p.m., Winston-Salem Police were called to the 1700 block of Argonne Boulevard, off Waughtown Street.
There, they found Robertson on the side of the street with an apparent gunshot wound. He died at the scene.
Robertson was one of four people killed in October. The victims included another high school student, Jayden Jamison, 16, who went to Winston-Salem Prep.
The deaths of Robertson and Jamison prompted Superintendent Angela Hairston to issue a statement.
“Anytime young people are injured or become victims, certainly it impacts our students and impacts our teachers,” Hairston said. “It has a tremendous impact on everyone in our school community. Anything like this is devastating to all of us that might be involved. I hope we will come together as a community and see some positive shifts.”
A few days after Robertson’s death, police arrested four people, three of whom were teenagers at the time.
Glenn staff members approached Collins about walking in her son’s footsteps last week.
“I was honored to be able to intercede on his behalf,” Collins said. “It was a joyous day.”
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