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Learning in Lubbock, Texas

By Robert Lilly



On my recent trip to Lubbock Texas, I was so blessed. The blessing was in the opportunity I was afforded to experience the marvelous work of the African American Educational Summit. This event was the culmination of discussions between both men and women leaders of Lubbock, Texas as well as United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. These discussions were intended to be a means by which the community could indentify the key educational issues affecting African {{more}} American and Hispanic students. In addition, they were to develop goals to empower, enable and employ the West Texas African American community. All in all the programming was fabulous and I personally noted several concerned citizens from Abilene, Texas. If you ventured to attend, you would have been edified, I certainly was. Those present were Tonya Brown, Jessica Owens, Sienna Miller, Petty Hunter and myself. Many exciting speakers were invited and did attend; topping the list of anticipated invites was Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, a prominent educational consultant, who specializes in the area of countering the conspiracy to destroy black boys. Also, Nikki Giovanni, the acclaimed professor of Virginia Tech and poetess. She was on hand to both commemorate the celebration of Black History month and to inspire and educate her audience with her entertaining style of poetic narrative. The highlight, however, was not the adult participation; rather, it was the opportunity to see over 450 student youth present and involved in all facets of the youth activities. They were the primary reason for the gathering, and true to their intent they facilitated access of the youth to an opportunity to experience an institution of higher learning. And I was later informed that every student was given a questionnaire to fill out that would serve as a means by which to assess the opinions of the students towards their prospects for their future and their perception of their present.The youth were ushered into the auditorium at the Texas Tech commons area and were fed, entertained and counseled on the various programs and departments that Texas Tech had to offer its students. I personally questioned numerous young people concerning their experience that day and universally the response was one of excitement and elation. They seemed overjoyed to have their future dreams taken seriously. And coupled with that spirit was the chance that had been extended to them to actually see, with their own eyes, what possibilities lay ahead for them, should they continue to dream and remain faithful to that dream. Again, I was both touched and inspired by a troop of students from a local high school, who, under the guidance of one of the faculty had organized a youth voter registration drive. They had long lines of students signing up to be registered or to learn about registration for voting. What made this entire summit special was its practical response to the commonly held, yet cynical view by far too many adult, that young people are disengaged and apathetic. This summit pragmatically proved that with the proper amount of support and encouragement the youth, themselves, will assert their rights, and express what is important and relevant to them. The youth are often touted by the adults as the reason for this or for that, however, seldom is much time and consideration given to them to support their aspirations. These brothers and sisters put their time and their money where their mouth is. Their efforts must be seen as a true testament to their commitment to turn things around in the city of Lubbock, Texas. In fact, a common theme throughout the entire two days of activities was that it takes an entire village to raise a child. And I think the village of Lubbock, Texas and its various constituents and stakeholders of the African American Educational Summit were especially proud of their collective work. A special Banquet along with performances was also held to enjoy and to help raise money for the cause. In conclusion, they have reinforced my motivation to continue my efforts in working, here in Abilene, Texas with the AALC and Petty Hunter and a myriad of other alphabet organizations as equally determined to see our young men and women graduate from high school and ushered into college or a university, to matriculate. Ultimately these youth will be our leaders, by choice or default. What they become, whether it is a gang banger or a convict or a drug dealer/user or a scientist or a legal scholar, will be as much their efforts as it will be ours.

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