It was a beautiful school, Huston-Tillotson. The band would play and the choir would sing and the president of the college would beg us to play The Bells of Saint Mary and it would make him cry.
“In the early years, our forefathers got together to bring this institution about to lift the ban of ignorance…” he would say. I still remember that.
People like Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and Adam Clayton Powell used to come to the school. Every Wednesday night we had a celebrity speaker. They were so happy to see a bunch of kids trying to get educated. I enjoyed it. I played in the school band three years. I was the lead alto player which was a big deal. We had to try out for the school band like a football player. You earned a scholarship. I didn’t have to pay for nothing but books. Everything else was a freebee, food, dormitory.
Every time the Nat King Cole Trio would come through to play, our band would play the opening for them and then the Nat King Cole trio would play. All those bands would come through there and we would see those musicians dressed in those latest styles.