(JACKSON, Miss.) — Dr. Roderick Little, director of bands at Jackson State University, is currently featured in the Dockers brand storytelling series “Recognize.” Launched in honor of Black History Month, and extending beyond, Recognize is “about celebrating inspiring community members, contributors and influencers making a difference with their distinct perspectives, style and commitment to finding purpose in their passions.”
As one of the youngest directors of bands in JSU’s history, Little appealed to Dockers due to his contributions to the Sonic Boom of the South and his personal story, according to Will Freeman, project manager.
The business casual clothing leader wanted to know more about Little’s approach to fostering genuine relationships with his students and the importance of youth exploring the musical arts in the Black community.
Little explained that his participation stemmed from the desire to promote his students, the Boom and JSU, through the lens of the HBCU band experience.
“Not only are HBCUs overlooked, but band programs are vastly viewed wrongfully. People underestimate the time and effort that our students put into our program to make it function on a high level while focusing on academia, juggling personal lives and doing it all with limited resources,” said Little, who is also an assistant professor of music.
The director shared that he found it important to highlight African American males in higher education who give back to those who look like them. Speaking of giving back, when Little was offered a $5,000 stipend for his participation in the Dockers’ series, he opted to donate it to the band. Along with $1,500 Dockers gifted to the Boom, that equaled a total contribution of $6,500 for student scholarships.
“I’ve lived my entire life giving [back] and helping other people. If God gave me the talent, then I have to use it to elevate other people. I liked participating on this platform in hopes that it will motivate someone somewhere to inspire others,” he said.
Little added that the “Recognize” series is a great springboard for general audiences to start noticing HBCU programs, which could ultimately lead to more significant opportunities to provide resources and donors to help support JSU students, the band program, the Department of Music, and the university.
According to Freeman, through “Recognize,” Dockers is committed to amplifying Black stories, employing diverse talent, and investing in opportunities — throughout the year and beyond.
“This is not a campaign. This is a celebration of Black excellence.”
Check out Little in “Recognize.”