Monday, June 30, 2014

'Dare To Be Different' - Montco Prosecutor Inspires Youth

     Offering messages of hope and encouragement, Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Green II recently returned to Philadelphia's inner city where he grew up, to inspire young people to acquire a strong educational foundation to prepare themselves for a successful future.
     Green was invited to provide a commencement address at James R. Ludlow School in North Philadelphia, which he attended as an elementary school student. Green told me he saw it as an opportunity to "nurture" and to "pour something positive into the minds of our youth that may make a difference."
     "I take that very seriously because it could be a game-changing moment, a life-changing moment. I hoped to convey that they can be successful that if I can do it, they can do it," said Green, who entitled his address, "Dare To Be Different." "The norm in the inner city is chaos and I told them that just because there's chaos they don't have to become chaotic. I told them that there's a lot of love and that there are persons in the inner city who care about education - teachers and parents in the community."
                           Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Green II
                                                                     Mercury Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.

     The 18 graduates were leaving the 8th grade and moving on to high school.
     "High school doesn't start until September. Just because school is out doesn't mean that you have to sit on the step all day listening to Kanye West and Nicki Minaj," Green recalled telling the students. "There's nothing wrong with going to the Free Library and picking up a book or two and reading it over the summer. Books will assist you in the development of your learning as it relates to your reading comprehension. Books are also inspirational but most of all books can take you places that some of us have never been. Dare to be different.
     "Don't be around the nonsense. Don't be around the foolishness, I told them," Green recalled.
     Telling students to 'dare to be different' when choosing friends, Green mentioned to them that he recently prosecuted two young men for attempted robbery and burglary, one of whom had a scholarship to play football at a university this fall.
     "This young man was most likely on his way. But he chose the wrong road," Green told the students, adding a collegiate atmosphere can offer a spirit of healthy academic competition, a diversity of ideas and lasting friendships from all walks of life. "Be wise in your choices in who you make your friends. Dare to be different."
     Green pointed out that some studies by behavioral and educational analysts have suggested that the ills that plague the inner city - low income, single parent households and crime - correlate to poor academic performance. Candidly, Green told the students, "I'm not supposed to be here because according to the naysayers I was a child at-risk."
     That, Green said, was his motivation to graduate high school and to go on to college and law school.
     Grabbing their attention, Green candidly shared that he was from their community and the ills that plagued the community were a part of his life, including having relatives who were murder victims.
     "I once sat where you are now sitting. So if I can do it, with all the things that I've been through, you can do the same," Green recalled telling the students. "That's what I wanted to convey to them."
     "We're all familiar with the educational and behavioral ills that plague the inner city and one of those ills is the stereotype that education is not a priority," recalled Green, who told the graduating students they are products of parents who do provide encouragement  for student achievement and who place a value on the importance of education. "I know firsthand that there is a lot of sacrifice, hard work and love that comes from inside of our North Philadelphia homes. I said continue to dare to be different."
     Green, always impeccably dressed in court and wearing his trademark bow tie, explained first impressions are lasting impressions and urged the students to have respect for others.
     "Know your capabilities as well as your limitations and don't be afraid to ask for help," Green reminded the students. "Seek out mentors and work hard."
     "I also talked to them about the Internet and having the world at their fingertips if they use the Internet positively," Green recalled.

Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Green II

Green, a father of three whose wife is a school principal in New Jersey, entered his alma mater's gymnasium behind the students during the graduation procession

     "As I began to walk it took me to like a 'Back to the Future' type moment. It gave me goose bumps. It was my educational foundation," Green reflected. "It took me back to the time when I was matriculating at their level. The faces of the teachers were different but the goals were still the same, to prepare them for the next stage in their educational development."
     Green, whose grandmother was once a janitor at the school and who still lives in the community, was greeted with a standing ovation after his address.
    A month before he addressed the graduates, Green even met with the students who wouldn't be graduating this year to impart to them the importance of education.
    "They sent me some thank you letters. I actually connected with them," Green said happily. "If you reach just one it becomes infectious, because that one can reach someone else."

Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Green II

     Kudos and thanks to Green for being a mentor and inspiring others as part of his devotion to public service.


  1. Thanks for giving Joe some well-deserved recognition. He really is a beacon of professionalism and a true believer in justice. Mercy is the heart of the law. What a great role model for these kids to look up to!

  2. Wow, very inspiring words. Truer words have never been spoken! Mr. Green, continue to be a beacon of hope & enlightenment. Continue to make difference in our community.

  3. Thanks for being so inspirational and thats what we all must do as a people starting in our own family. We have to continue to reach back each one teach one and we must be examples and role models to let our future know that if I can do it so can you!!