Band director walking across Mid-America stops at A-State

Updated: Sep. 2, 2020 at 10:42 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - An Alabama high school band director is walking hundreds of miles trying to help underfunded band programs in the process.

PJ Howard is a band director at a high school in Montgomery, Ala. and he is walking 800 miles, just to help his students.

“This journey is long overdue,” Howard said.

He began this journey on August 20 to raise awareness and funding for underfunded band programs like his.

“My school is suffering,” Howard said. “My school is literally in my opinion falling apart.”

So, he set off on his journey to Kansas City, Mo., but along the way, he stopped off at Arkansas State University to speak to the Sound of the Natural State Marching Band.

“I also am very impressed with that with the director of athletic bands and also his ensemble,” Howard said.

While talking to the band, a student named Timothy was inspired by his mission and played him a song.

“It’s a song and titled Strive to be Happy,” Howard said. “And it was really heartwarming, and I can’t get it out of my head. I was just blown away at his performance, his passion for performance.”

His journey has touched other A-State band students as well.

“I think a lot of times, some of us, we kind of forget that there are school districts that aren’t as fortunate as others,” band member Robert Johnson said. “When it’s easy to just, you know, walk into a brand new building and think everybody has it and that’s really not the case.”

And now, students want to take his story back to their communities.

“And I really want to take the story and go back to my people,” band member Chris Wilson said. “And not only support the black community but like people of color in general, and any, any student, regardless of skin color, that doesn’t get the opportunity that they deserve.”

When we talked Wednesday afternoon, Howard was nearly finished with this leg of his journey.

“I’m actually about 11 miles from my destination,” Howard said.

That destination, the BAC Music Center in Kansas City to begin a partnership.

“So that my students and students that reside in Zip Codes just like mine will be able to have the support they need from companies, you know, in terms of sponsorships and so forth,” Howard said.

Howard said if anyone has questions about his journey to email him at pjhoward1911@gmail.com. You can also donate to his school’s program by clicking here.

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