On December 3 2009, nearly 30 Asian immigrant students attending South Philadelphia High were attacked by groups of mostly African American students. The violence sparked a U.S. Justice Department investigation, as 13 students were sent to the hospital in the wake of the attacks. Former Roc-a-fella standouts Freeway and Young Chris heard about the incident, and both artists will participate in a rally and a concert at the school to promote unity.
“I’m from where they’re from,” Freeway told CNN. “I can talk about those experiences [on the street], but I am a businessman now. I wouldn’t take nothing back. It’s shaped me as a man…I was subject to the same things they were.”
Local residents Chad Lassiter and Darin Toliver who co-founded The Black Men at Penn School of Social Work, Inc., helped by spending hours fielding discussions with South Philadelphia High students.
“We want all young people on every side of the color line to feel safe and secure in their school,” Lassiter recently told Philadelphia Weekly. “Young people have answers. We don’t ask them enough.”
There has since been a vigil to commemorate last year’s incident, and students and faculty recently held a rally to further promote peace and diversity. Thursday’s concert featuring Young Chris and Freeway will be the most high-profile event—as it is part of State Representative Kenyatta Johnson’s “Project Succeed” campaign.
“Whether we want to believe it or not, they look at us as mentors,” Young Chris added.