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This page is an archival piece from the South Philly High School campaign. We have preserved it for those looking to learn more about the history of campaigns for justice by Asian Americans United in Philadelphia.


Student Walkout

Asian students from South Philly High, including members of the South Philadelphia High Chinese American Student Association (a group that Wei Chen organized last year in response to the school’s violence) are spent the week of December 5th, 2009 in meetings with parents, other students, and community leaders to find solutions to the long-standing issues at the school.


Dec. 9th, 2009: Students Testify at SRC Meeting

Read the testimonies of Asian immigrant students from South Philadelphia High School »

Dec. 11th, 2009:  AALDEF to File Civil Rights Complaint Against Philadelphia High School District

District’s failure to remedy rampant anti-Asian violence at South Philadelphia High School prompts action

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) announced today its intention to file a complaint for civil rights violations with the U.S. Department of Justice against the Philadelphia School District for failing to address the rampant violence against Asian immigrant students at South Philadelphia High School (SPHS).

Read the full press release here along with news from AALDEF.


Dec. 13th, 2009: Citywide Rally against Anti-Asian Violence

crowd gathers to support students from South Philly High on Dec 13, 2009

Thanks to everyone who came out to support the South Philly High students at Arch Street United Methodist Church. The outpouring of love and support for the students at the gathering was an eye-opener for the students and an inspiration to us all.

A working group of community groups has come together to work intensively to support the students during this difficult time. This group has been working with the students since the incident on December 3rd occurred and organized the event yesterday. It includes:

  • Boat People SOS
  • Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation
  • Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia
  • Asian Americans United

If you would like to continue your support for the students and the broader struggle for safe schools, please consider giving a donation to Asian Americans United and join our listserv to receive updates by emailing us all of your contact information to aau @ aaunited.org. And please spread the word and check back here for news!


Dec. 15th, 2009: Students Suspend Boycott after meeting with Superintendent Ackerman

Students of the South Philly High boycott meet with Dr. Ackerman and Mike Silverman

Tuesday, December 15th at 7:30 pm, the students of South Philly High School agreed to suspend their boycott of the school following a frank, and occasionally pointed exchange with School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. The students had boycotted school for eight days in the wake of assaults both inside and outside the building. The students were concerned that safety issues had been consistently ignored and that the school’s lack of appropriate response had contributed to escalating violence against them.

Present at the meeting were:

  • more than 30 of the 50–60 students who had been boycotting the school;
  • 10–12 ‘student ambassadors’ from the school;
  • a number of community members from the Asian community: Helen Gym and Ellen Somekawa, Asian Americans United; Nancy and Michelle Nguyen from Boat People SOS; Xu Lin, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation; Mia-Lia Kiernan, Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, Tram Nguyen, Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia, Thoai Nguyen, SEAMAAC, Allan Wong, Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs, and others
  • Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, Comprehensive High School Regional Superintendent Michael Silverman, Principal LaGreta Brown, Assistant Principal Ozzie Wright

The meeting lasted more than two hours.

PUBLIC STATEMENT from the Students

Through our trials and struggles, we pushed the school to hear us. We have made change by standing together. We are proud of what we have done. If something happens again after all this, we know that we have strong wills and we will stand together again.

We have came back to stand with more students. We want to start a dialogue with other student organizations. We will continue to work with the community organizations. The struggle will go on until all the demands are met. We won’t give up. We ask everyone to continue to pay attention to what’s going on at South Philadelphia High School. We hope that school can change their attitude for the benefits of all students. We thank our supporters. Without the support of everyone we could not go this far. We are excited for the future. We now believe in hope and change like president Obama.

We want a safe school for everyone. We want everyone to have a good education. This is not the end, but just the beginning of the fight for better futures and better educations for all races of students.

— Students of the South Philly High boycott —


Dec. 22nd, 2009: South Philly High School Students honored by NAACP Chapter


Jan 18th, 2010: MLK Day March & Rally for Justice & Peace

march for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Action

Student Rally and March Against Violence, hosted by Philadelphia Student Union and including co-sponsorships by AAU, Boat People SOS, and Cambodian Association, brought together more than 600 marchers to stop school violence.

Video by Philadelphia Student Union