By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At Germantown High School, prosecutors from the US attorney’s office in Philadelphia took a different tack today in addressing some of the city’s most pressing issues: gun violence and bullying.
Assistant US attorney Sozi Tulante related his compelling upbringing to the students. His family arrived in North Philadelphia’s “Badlands” from the Congo in 1983, about a block from the then-notorious 8th and Butler Streets drug hotspot.
At the age of eight, his goal was to be a drug dealer, but says he was lucky to turn things around by dedicating himself to modest goals: “I would go to school every day,” he says he promised himself.
After graduating from Northeast High, he put himself through Harvard Law School. Today, he told the students they should set goals for themselves.
“I wanted to make sure that they realized they’re going to have choices, and they have a responsibility for determining what choices they take. I also wanted to remind them that everyone’s made bad choices.”
Two-Time cruiserweight boxing world champion Steven Cunningham, a Germantown High graduate, also talked to them about better options than gun violence and bullying:
“I can relate to them,” he told KYW Newsradio afterward. “I wanted to tell them that there’s another route to go.”
Collectively, their messages touched on the choices juveniles make and the impact those choices have on their lives as adults.
Students — including Andre Wood, the student government president at Germantown High — were receptive.
“It’s not all about being violent and what hood you come from — it’s about doing the right thing,” Wood said, adding that some of his peers need to get over thoughts that being bad earns respect in the ‘hood.