‘I Am Proof That We Can,’ Sotomayor Tells Bronx Students

“The Bronx is home,” said Sonia Sotomayor. (Photo by Nick Carter Photography Inc. via Manhattan Times)

Middle schoolers participating in the 20th annual Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Program at the Bronx County Courthouse on June 9 had a special guest presiding over one of the final rounds – Soundview native Sonia Sotomayor.

The competition encourages students in the seventh and eighth grades to consider professions in the legal field by letting them assume the roles of prosecutors, defense attorneys and witnesses in mock trials. The appearance of the associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, however, gave the event particular meaning for local families, as Gregg McQueen reports for The Bronx Free Press.

In speaking to the students, Sotomayor recalled a TV interview she did outside the Bronxdale Houses (now renamed the Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses) where she grew up. A boy on the street asked, “What makes you so important?”

She said she pointed to the window of the apartment she grew up in and told the boy, “’Like you, I grew up in this project, And there’s a lot of people out in the bigger world, who actually don’t think that people like you and me can ever become anything.’”

“I am proof that we can,” she stated.

Trial lawyer Edwar Estrada, who himself participated in the mock trial program 18 years ago, described the inspiration Sotomayor instilled in him: “She made me believe that someone who came from my neighborhood and looked like me could be a lawyer.”

Read what he and a Bronx attorney had to say about the benefits of the program for local students at The Bronx Free Press.

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