With a new principal, new school programs, and close attention from the U.S. Department of Justice after last years racially motivated attacks involving South Philadelphia High School students, Asian students are hoping for a better year.
Philadelphia public school students head back to the classroom next Tuesday. Asian immigrant students planning to attend South Philadelphia High School for the first time will be getting some training from former students on how to handle potential violence.
On a single day last December more than a dozen Asian immigrant students at South Philadelphia High School were attacked by their African American peers. Both students and community leaders said the violence was racially motivated and pointed to years of such incidents that school officials dismissed or ignored. The incident touched off an eight-day boycott by students protesting a lack of safety at the school.
This year there’s a new principal and new after school arts programs run by the Asian American Arts Initiative. But former South Philly high student Bach Tong says he wants the incoming students to know how to stick up for themselves.
“I would love them to know that whatever happens to speak up and just stand up, and stand on their footprint,” he says.
Tong says he’s hopeful that the new principal will help make the school safer.
Recently, the Department of Justice found merit in a human rights complaint filed by the Asian American Legal Defense Fund.