David was born in Harlem in 1948 and, like many young Black men of time, received his early education in the streets. David began experimenting with drugs and alcohol around the age of 10, and by the age of 14 had moved on to using and selling heroin on the streets of Harlem. For years, David cycled in and out of the justice system with multiple misdemeanors, county and city jail terms. He served the first of two New York State prison sentences from 1967 to 1969.
It was upon release from his first prison bid that he first began to realize the transformative potential of education. He attended the borough of Manhattan Community College for 6 months in 1971, then graduated with a degree in Accounting from Monroe Business School in 1977. However, it was during his second prison stay from 1995 – 2000 that this full potential was met. During that time, David began work as a peer counselor for Mohawk Counseling Services, conducting training programs, client assessments and referrals, and acting as a liaison between clients and outside agencies. Upon his release, David continued to work as a counselor at Mount Vernon Hospital. In May of 2016, David graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and he is currently working at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health as researcher on a major study of HIV Positive adults in upstate New York and New York City.