As far as guest speakers go, having Will Strickland, the president of the Urban Music Association of Canada, come to UTM and speak to students on Black History Month is an honour. In celebration of Black History Month, the Erindale Collage African Students Association and the Caribbean Connections clubs joined to host a series of events in order to recognize both Black History and how that history affects us today. On February 9th, Strickland graced the UTMSC Student Centre to speak of what Black History meant to him.
An accomplished person, Strickland had done more than enough to make his name known in the States, and intends to do the same thing here in Canada. As a child, he became interested in the urban culture. The first free-styling match that he had ever seen sent him home to write his own lyrics. He wrote three lines that established the things that were important to him: ‘My mom is cool. I go to school. I’m not a fool.’ On these foundations—respect for his parents, respect for his education and respect for his self —Strickland began to build and he hasn’t stopped since.
Strickland’s career started early in 1986 and he became one of the youngest deejays on American radio. Not forgetting his education, he went to University in Houston in 1988 on both an academic and athletic scholarship. Finally triple majoring in political science, managerial studies and economics. He went on to launch Urban Arts Marketing and Promotions.
With all this experience, Strickland moved on to work with some large record labels such as Uptown, Badboy, RCA and Epic/Sony Music while still being able to maintain a small basketball career. In his career, he has worked with artists such as Michel Jackson. WuTang Clan, R. Kelly, Shaquille O’Neal, Mary J Blige, Notorious B.I.G and many more. He has appeared on ESPN, MTV, BET and Much Music. At the moment, he is still with the UMAC, but says that he’s still young and there is a whole world out there.
Of all the messages that this accomplished man imparted to students, the one that stuck out the most was the advice “Plan your Work so that you can Work your Plan,” which means that if you want to do something, you first have to plan out your strategy. then you take that plan and do it: plan to make it work. That was how Strickland did it and he prompted students to look where he was now—all his life, he planned his work so that he could work his plan. He reminded students that they should never forget the things that were important—respect for where they come from, respect for what they can learn from others and from the world and respect for who they are as individuals. “If money is your goal then you’ll never go far,” Strickland replied when asked why he had left the music industry in America. His reasons were personal but never about the money and he told students that it never should be about money, but about doing the right thing.
On the subject of Black History Month, Strickland claimed that as great as remembering Black History was, he wanted to know about Black Present. He asked students what they were doing today to help the people around them. Black History, he told students, should be celebrated all year round and it’s that history that should influence not only Black people but all peoples of the world.