Nearly 200 Lynwood Unified African American students received messages of empowerment from professionals and discussed leadership during the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Conference on Jan. 29 at Firebaugh High School.
Firebaugh sophomore Anastacia Nwosu, a member of the Young Black Achievers Student Union (YBASU), helped to organize the event.
“It was great to have students from different schools come together for a positive message,” Nwosu said. “I feel like all of us came away from today with more confidence in ourselves and our ability to effect change around us.”
The second-year event is a joint venture between Lynwood Unified’s Department of Equity and YBASU. Many students who attended the conference were YBASU members from Firebaugh, Lynwood and Vista high schools.
Keynote speaker Fluke Fluker, co-founder of The Village Nation nonprofit dedicated to African American youth, inspired students with a talk about never giving up. Fluker has developed a cultural awareness and life skills curriculum that he has shared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show and at the Essence Music Festival. In 2015, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans celebrated Fluker’s work.
Guest panelists then led discussions about leadership and shared personal stories of triumph.
Panelists included Early Childhood Education Director Dr. Heather Harris, Cal State Dominguez Black Student Union President Tendaji Maconnan, Los Angeles Southwest College Instructor Sidney Cosby, entrepreneur/professional athlete Philip Reed, Compton College assistant basketball coach Davieon Mack and DeAntwan Fitts from the National College Resources Foundation. Lynwood High School students Breanna Farmer, Quintin Hawkins and Kelauni Davis joined Firebaugh students Makayla Brown and Jaden Ervin on the panel.
The panel discussed what it means to be a king or queen, defining leadership and being “dangerously selfish” as a leader, as MLK implored in his final speech.
“Lynwood Unified believes that a major part of empowering students to achieve their personal goals, whether those goals are going to college, trade school or beginning their career after high school, is representation,” Lynwood Unified Superintendent Gudiel Crosthwaite said. “That is also one of the goals of the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Conference. The District is grateful to all of the panelists for their time and proud of all the high school students who represented Lynwood.”
Students devised individual goals and pathways to success at lunch and during a breakout session.
“Our students are the leaders of the future, and we are looking forward to all that they will achieve after high school, in college and in their career and beyond,” Lynwood Unified Board of Education President Gary Hardie Jr. said. “The District will continue to find new ways to challenge, engage and prepare its students for that future.”