YOUNGSTOWN Lawyer urges pupils: Go for your dreams
Pupils listened to the message of hope from a Youngstown native.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Returning to his alma mater, civil rights Atty. Percy Squire made a promise to hundreds of pupils.
"I will hire any kid from East that goes to law school," Squire said, at East Middle School, on East High Avenue. "That's my pledge to them."
The 1968 graduate of the former East High School was the featured speaker at the "No Justice-No Freedom; Know Justice-Know Freedom" event Thursday in the school's auditorium. School officials organized the event to celebrate Black History Month.
Squire told pupils that they can all achieve their dreams through hard work.
"I come to you as a product of the East Side, and therefore, I feel a strong connection to you," Squire said. "The most important thing you can take away from this auditorium today is the concept of knowledge."
Some pupils took Squire's message to heart.
"I never knew there were so many people from East Middle School that went on to be lawyers and judges," eighth-grader Aric Franklin said. "I can say I went to East Middle School and went on to be somebody."
Other prominent black community members were recognized at the event, such as Bill Murray, a nationally syndicated cartoonist; Capt. Jimmy Hughes of the Youngstown Police Department; State Rep. Sylvester Patton of Youngstown, D-60th; Sarah Brown Clark, the first black woman Youngstown clerk of courts, and Wendy Webb, who will become Youngstown's first black woman superintendent.
Squire's message also touched on some serious issues, including murder and gang violence.
He told the pupils about the time his close friend got killed in the school's parking lot. Squire and his friends knew the shooter and could have gotten revenge, but Squire chose restraint instead.
"They [gang members] look at justice as an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth," he said. "There is another concept; it's called freedom."
Squire has been practicing law for more than 20 years and manages his own law firm called Squire & amp; Pierre-Louis, in Columbus.
He graduated from the U.S Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., with a bachelor's in military science and engineering. After serving in the Army, Squires graduated with a law degree from Ohio State University.
Squires also co-owns and operates local radio station WGFT 102-JAMZ.
As for Squire's promise, some pupils said they would take him up on it.
"If you just put your mind to it and try hard, you can be a lawyer," seventh-grader Olajuwon Perkins said. "He showed us how you can really come from something bad and make it positive."