Morehouse Junior High pays special tribute to 'The Man'

Published: Jul. 2, 2016 at 7:08 PM CDT
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Willie Johnson says it seems like just yesterday he first met Charles Strickland, a teacher who eventually became Morehouse Junior High's band director.

Strickland introduced Johnson to the saxaphone and the rest was history.

"I got hooked on it and couldn't get off of it," says Johnson, class of 1971.

Strickland taught at Morehouse for over 30 years and helped many students discover their musical gifts, but many say his wisdom went well beyond the four walls of the band room.

"He taught us to be be be conscientious about what we were doing," says Essie Walker, class of 1963.

Walker was a Majorette and cherishes her memories of Strickland. Especially the moments right before each performance.

"He would walk and he would say Ok are you ready? And he'd say let's do it," says Walker.

Walker and Johnson both agree he was never scared to treat his students like kids of his own.

"I started getting a little big headed and he said he didn't care how good I was. He told me someone is always better than you so stay humble," says Johnson.

Johnson says he'll never forget those words of wisdom. Even though Strickland is gone, he knows he's never off the hook.

"Even today he corrects me. If I'm doing something wrong, if my pitch is a little wobbly, I hear his voice, so even today in the spirit he teaches me," says Johnson.

Strickland was closer with some of his students than others but they all have this monument to remind them that he truly was "The Man."