|Al Henderson talking ideas in my office in August 2009.|
Among the many students I've worked with over the years, the young men have been especially interested in music. R & B. Gospel. Jazz. Some rock. And of course rap. And among the many young black men interested in the music, there was this one student Al Henderson.
Rarely have I encountered a student with so much depth and range of knowledge about various music and musical histories. Henderson seemed to have listened to it all. He didn't brag about his knowledge, in fact, you had to raise the right questions or pay close attention to become aware of how much he knew.
By the time Henderson enrolled in one of my African American literature courses in 2005, I was already aware of him and his high musical IQ. Prior to that time, he was serving as a student worker for Eugene B. Redmond, who frequently mentioned Henderson's cultural and artistic knowledge. I'd often stop by Redmond's office to talk music and history and politics with Henderson.
When he enrolled in my class, we expanded the conversations. And we did so long after he left the course.
As I continue reflecting on knowledge, creativity, and the arts among collegiate black men at SIUE, Henderson often comes to mind.
• A notebook on knowledge, creativity, and collegiate black men