Roundtable focuses on education and unity in the community

(L to R) Robert "Bo" Bynum speaks at the Community Roundtable Saturday, as Pastor Gerry Mitchell and community activist and public speaker Abdul Majeed Askia looks on.

LANCASTER – About a dozen leaders from various segments of the Antelope Valley community gathered Saturday afternoon at the Agape Church for a Community Roundtable.

Organizer and community activist, Abdul Majeed Askia, said the purpose of the roundtable was for various community leaders to pool their knowledge and resources together to tackle the most pressing issues affecting the Antelope Valley community today.

“Education, crime, recidivism, and unity in the community across racial, cultural and ethnic lines,” Askia said. “We’re here to collectively and effectively address these issues in our community.

Speakers at the roundtable included Robert “Bo” Bynum,  Palmdale School District Trustee; Pharaoh Mitchell, President of The Community Action League; Juan Blanco, President of the NAACP – AV Chapter; Lilia Galindo, Director of Unincorporated Areas for the League of United Latin American Citizens; David Paul, Lancaster Human Relations Tapestry Commissioner; local pastor Gerry Mitchell; mediator Linda Atkins Hughes; local businessman Savi Masood from Valley Construction; and community organizers Larry Evans, David Marshall and Cary Sherman.

The majority of the speakers stressed education as the key to addressing crime and unifying the community.

(L to R) Savi Masood, Linda Hughes, Larry Evans and Pharaoh Mitchell.

“Education to me seems to be the core of how we reconstruct our society,” Bynum said, adding that rigorous education needed to start at the preschool level in order to counteract some of the negative influences some students faced at home.

“I can stand up here and tell you stories, that would have all of you crying, about the kids that we have to send home every day that don’t want to go back home,” Bynum said. “When we glorify them in school, it offsets some of the home life.”

Pharaoh Mitchell said community leaders should reach out to struggling parents as well and treat them with respect and dignity.

“What we have to start working on is getting those parents together and letting those parents know that there are people out here that care about them,” Mitchell said. “When you have nothing to reach for, you can’t go get a job, you can’t fulfill your family’s needs… then you will reach for something else – alcohol and drugs.  And this is what our community is reaching for, and now our kids are going home to hell every day.”

Bynum said he and other educators had initiated parenting classes in an effort to address some of the problems students may be facing at home. But he said many parents would attend initial meetings and then drop out due to lack of interest. He said it was now up to educators to succeed, in seven hours a day, where parents had failed.

“So when we do release them to go home, the negative influence [from home] will be minimal,” Bynum said.

Community organizer, Larry Evans, said religious organizations could play a more active role in addressing education and other social issues. Evans said church leaders should implore their congregation to volunteer in the schools.

“Why can’t the people in those pews tutor the kids at the schools?” Evans said, adding that sermons should address social issues in addition to religious issues. Askia agreed.

(L to R) Cary Sherman, David Paul, David Marshall and Lilia Galindo.

“The church has an audience and with this audience they can start to effectively address the issues in the community, as opposed to just a feel-good sermon,” Askia said.  “We have drive-bys, we have broken families, we have racial issues, we have all types of conflict that often times the church just totally overlooks.”

Bynum said unity among the churches could spread the message even further. He said every pastor of every denomination and faith needed to bring their congregations together to one location and then preach a unified message that focused on solutions.

“That’s the one sure way I know that we will get a windfall of people, and then the message coming from our pastors, our religious leaders, has to be so strong that there’s commitment from everyone in the audience,” Bynum.  “To be inspired enough to go out and say, ‘yeah, we’re gonna make a difference, and we know how.’”

Another surefire way to make a difference is through voting, said LULAC’s Lilia Galindo. She said the importance of voting was a message that was not getting through to the community, as evidenced by the 14 percent voter turnout in the Lancaster election on April 10.

“We can come here, go to protest, we can do many things, but if we are not convinced of the importance of our voice through our vote, we are never going to do anything,” Galindo said. “There are many things different in our ethnic groups, but we have something in common… we are the 99% working class, and we have to vote.”

Galindo said, in addition to registering people to vote, leaders needed to figure out why the people already registered to vote appear to have no interest in voting.

“I think that we have to work together and make a change, otherwise we’re going to continue with the same thing,” Galindo said.

Juan Blanco spoke of the importance of putting character before color, Linda Hughes spoke of the importance of having a mutually respectful relationship with law enforcement, and David Paul spoke of the importance of seeing past race.

“There is only one race, the human race,” Paul said.

Askia said Saturday’s Community Roundtable was the first of several roundtables he would be organizing to address the problems that are hindering the growth of the Antelope Valley community.

  14 comments for “Roundtable focuses on education and unity in the community

  1. Abdul Majeed Askia
    May 21, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Oddly enough you along with others have put up tremendous opposition
    toward Abdul Majeed Askia reaching the public. The million dollar
    question is why ? What do you think they will hear that you don’t
    think they should hear ? If I can reach one youth or a handful of
    people I will feel that I have made a diffeence. In fact, one
    learned person is harder of the devil than a thousand worshippers!
    That is, if one EienstienBill Cosby,Martin Luther King or Will Smith
    come out of the bunch I am alright with that because I know that
    person will reach millions ! One persona can make a difference!

    National spublic speaker/323-945-9589

  2. North County
    April 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Interesting quote from the article:

    “Bynum said he and other educators had initiated parenting classes in an effort to address some of the problems students may be facing at home. But he said many parents would attend initial meetings and then drop out due to lack of interest. He said it was now up to educators to succeed, in seven hours a day, where parents had failed.

    “So when we do release them to go home, the negative influence [from home] will be minimal,” Bynum said.

    – I appreciate the logic behind some of this “approach” – But I am left to ask why is it a teacher’s responsibility and burden to take over the roll of “parental” responsibilities when the parents have failed? Teachers should not have that burden placed upon their shoulders. Even the most dedicated educator doesn’t have that amount of time to devote to every student lacking parental guidance. True, a teacher or positive role model just might reach a few at risk kids, but ultimately the roll of parental authority should be at home.

    If a kids home environment is lacking the fundamentals of a healthy parental authority the buck should not be passed to the teacher – Educators are not babysitters and school should not be a “daycare” center for kids with parents who could care less. It isn’t a teacher’s responsibility to raise someone’s child, they have families of their own to look after.

    A big Catch-22 because if a kid is lacking parental guidance because mom/dad, either/or or both are running wild and far removed from any involvement with their children, most children will rebel from authority or any type of parental guidance or mentoring from an educator, or any person for that matter.

    Right or wrong, negative or positive, kids emulate their parents. If mom and dad don’t work, sleep all day, party all night, their kids see that as ‘normal’ and acceptable and sadly, very few kids in this situation are going to be persuaded to think differently. I applaud the efforts to get parents more involved in their children’s lives (what a concept, right?) – And I have seen the frustration and disappointment on the faces of people with good intentions, but ultimately it is the parents responsibility to do the right thing. We as a community shouldn’t further enable deadbeat parents by stepping in and raising their children for them; I’ve seen this before and it always ends on a sour note. Little Billy has no guidance at home, a devoted educator steps in and offers some guidance and support and all of the sudden little Billy’s mom comes out of the woodwork demanding justice, and accusing the system that she has milked for years of “over-stepping” it’s bounds. You can’t win.

    Even sadder, trying to get a kid like Billy to see that education, discipline and legitimate employment are the fundamental keys to a successful life, especially when Billy goes home and sees that mom/dad, etc have all of life’s luxuries (SUV, cash, high end electronics) – Yet nobody works and they sleep all day. Which path do you think Billy will take?

    Chances are quite likely that Billy will take any sage words or advice from a tired teacher who drives a worn out ’91 Honda with a grain of salt, especially when Billy goes home and sees how mom and Co have prospered without any of the fundamentals his teacher has spoken of. Yes we must break that horrible cycle, and of course a teacher or positive roll model can be that link in the chain, but to place all of the duties on the teacher and the school is illogical and at best, a pipe dream. Let’s go after these deadbeat parents who’s lifestyle’s are already instilled in the minds of kids like Billy. Easier said than done, I know.

    • Abdul Majeed Askia
      April 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      North county. Your response is what creates intelligent dialogue.
      When we brain storm and think outside of the box or the typical
      approach we can make a difference.

    • Quigley
      May 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

      NCounty thank you for writing the one on this site has ever called it like it is.

  3. Abdul Majeed Askia
    April 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Ace. If I am so crazy you should take that up with the people who
    placed me on the USC speaking circuit and invited me to speak on
    isses of concern on every level of this society! How many army
    bases,schools,colleges,seminars,conferences,panels and news media
    critiques have you been involved besides all the ugly name calling
    and personal attacks you have made on people ? To waste alot of
    energy putting other people down indicates there is something
    internally that you need to address.

    You and others are not only tracking me but are attempting to
    throw road blocks in my path. No sane or rational man/woman would
    set out to destroy other human beings. I am aware that when I
    speak of false religion,religion husling the people and using
    twisted interpretation to bind the people they would ultimately
    take issue with me.

    • Abdul Majeed Askia
      May 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      Jesus,Ghandi,Martin Luther King and a host of others
      that are now honored in history was first vilified!!!
      Scientist,scholrs,visionaries and prophets were tourtured,
      imprisoned and even killed for what they believed in.
      Saul who later became Paul was jailed and ultimately
      be-headed and he actually became the leader of the church!
      There is not a new invention or philosopphy that was
      not first resisted.

      I understand it but I find it rahter odd that anyone
      would dread the idea of people getting along in all walks
      of life. It amazes me how or why some people are so
      full of hate that they would rather we all self
      destruct then get along or live in peace.I understand
      there isa method to the madness I just want to be
      on the side that recognizes that God created us all !
      It is clear there is crazy behavior on all sides, thats
      a given, the idea is that the reasonable people should
      step up for the betterment of us all.

  4. Abdul Majeed Askia
    April 30, 2012 at 6:24 am

    First let me thank the AV Times for their well rounded coverage and
    allowing us to be a part of this productive dialogues. We want to thnk
    all thefine community leaders who came out to share their valuable
    time,efforts and insight into the challenges at hand. Hopefully the
    general community will share in that regards of recognizing everyone’s
    genuine efforts to make this a better and safer community for us all.

    As we all know “the beginning of a thousand miles journey is the first
    step!” We trust that we can all make a difference. We are all pieces
    of the puzzle and play a part of completing the picture of community.

    All the participants were great as we are taking the holistic approach
    in addressing our community concerns as we hope the leaers of this
    nation may ralize we are all in this together. Each political party
    has something of value to bring to the table. In fact we all balance
    one another out, the round table approach creates equilibrium, as
    Ron Paul pointed out “there is only one race the human race !” Yet
    we have so many conflicts and issues along ethnic and color lines. We
    have a tendency to color the facts and in some cases to look at the
    world through rose colored glasses failing to see the light.

    Again,the first round table has set the stage for growth and development,
    we can all come together and hash out differences and at the same
    time enjoy the thrill of learning and the adventure of standing up to
    the challenges we face as opposed to putting our heads in the sand
    and just sitting by watching our communities sink into quick sand of
    negativity and disorder. Stay tuned to the next round table and thank
    all the participants,news media,cooks and organizers !!!!!

    National Public Speaker,Abdul Majeed Askia/323-945-9589

    • North County
      April 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      I wasn’t there Abdul, but from the two articles I read (AV Press and here on this site) it sounds like the intentions are good, however read my post for my take on putting the parental responsibilities on the already overloaded shoulders of our educators; Your concepts and ideas are good, but I’m not sure they will work. Like I said before, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we have the resources needed to lay a strong foundation. Keep on, keeping on. What I did find insulting however, was the broken record debate and allegations of racism by law enforcement against minorities. The statements made about speeding tickets and minorities living in fear of being murdered by law enforcement is pulp fiction and racist propaganda. I think a black man needs to fear his own people murdering him in cold blood before a cop ambushes him. Put a lid on the homicide by cop conspiracy theories. Your group pointed out names of 2 minorities shot by law enforcement recently – Yet there was no mention of the white parolee career criminal who was justifiably shot by the cops in Quartz Hill last year. Why not? If you’re group is going to address these issues, don’t select ones that inflate tensions while glancing over the other “non-minority” people shot by cops. Progress is never made when the only thing accomplished is an acute case of carpal tunnel syndrome from pointing fingers at everyone.

      • Quigley
        May 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm

        Damn! NCounty you tell it like it is. I applaud you! What a reality check.

        • North County
          May 5, 2012 at 3:39 am

          @ Quigley; – Thank you – Abdul has good / valid (and usually long winded points) but when they stray off into the murky side of a conspiracy theory I have to jump in with some ballast to keep the ship from capsizing …

      • Stinger
        May 5, 2012 at 5:06 am

        Well argued and cogently put, NC.

  5. Yo Mama
    April 29, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    O boy… A “community” is made up of many races. But, it appears noone in the “community” cares about Abdul’s “think tank” frickin meeting! A-stupido!!

  6. J
    April 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Where are the pictures of the “crowd” that attended?

  7. Nicole Dawson
    April 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Wow Abdul, congratulations!!
    It seems like your roundtable addressed some very important issues in the community head on. It looks like not that many people attended though and that’s too bad.
    I was a little skeptical about your roundtable and that’s why I didn’t attend. A lot of your comments on this site were a bit overwhelming and confusing, so I didn’t know what to make of you and your roundtable. Sorry to have judged you incorrectly. If you publicize your next roundtable, I will make an effort to attend. You seem sincere in your efforts to affect change in this community.

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