Former Philadelphia Mayor Addresses Students
Web Editor - Published: February 23, 2009

“It’s refreshing to see young people really have a sense of purpose and a vision for their lives and for their communities,” said former Philadelphia Mayor John Street after an eloquent introduction from SBA Evening Division Liaison Charles Gibbs, a former employee of the Street Administration.

On Wednesday, February 18th, former Philadelphia Mayor John Street spoke to students on Widener Law’s Delaware Campus as the first speaker in the new Local Leaders series. The Student Bar Association sponsored the event, and Associate Dean Erin Daly and Gibbs helped organize Street’s visit.

“You may know that Dean Ammons and I both went to Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama,” said Street before discussing some of the challenges that he faced growing up in the 1950s. He implored the students to seize leadership opportunities, saying, “There are so many people in this country today who believe that an individual can’t make a difference.” He encouraged them to refute that notion by taking on leadership roles, saying, “I hope some people here decide to run for public office.”

The ex-mayor encouraged the audience to think about what they wanted to do after law school, noting, “For most of you, a really big question is going to be ‘what next?’ Where do I go?” After citing Widener’s legacy of promoting community service, he continued, “My advice is to try to find something that you would do for free. Try to find something that you like doing so much that has to do with the practice of your profession that you would do for free if you had to. Because most of you will have no trouble earning a living … but the question is what kind of life you’re going to lead.”

Mayor Street also touched on his career as a lawyer, how he ended up in politics, and some of the challenges he faced as a Mayor. After his remarks, he took questions from the students in the audience, including questions on the recent economic stimulus package and violence against police officers in the city of Philadelphia.

The next speaker in the Local Leaders series is Sayde Ladov, the chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association. She will speak at 5 pm in the student lounge on March 12th.