Robert W. Smith stands in front of the administrative building named in honor of Representative John Lewis at Troy University, where Robert is the Coordinator of the Music Industry program.
To mark the launch of the RWS Foundation, we are asking you to support our 2021 “Share Your Voice” campaign by contributing a used instrument that we will recondition or making a donation to our instrument fund.
In spring 2022, Robert Smith and Alfred Watkins will drive a rented truck from Troy, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia to deliver instruments to young music students. This trip will honor the legacies of Representative John Lewis and our good friend and Foundation Vice President, Alfred L. Watkins.
In Alfred’s words, “We need to get instruments into the hands of the children of America so they can find their inner creative soul.”
Option 1 – Donate a used instrument by clicking here
Option 2 – Donate to our instrument fund by clicking here
Representative John Lewis was born near Troy, Alabama. His parents were sharecroppers and his early childhood was marked by segregation and systemic racism. Books and school supplies were hard to come by and he was even denied a library card because of his race. He determined to share his voice and call out injustice wherever he saw it – even by preaching daily to the chickens that gathered in his family’s yard!
Influenced by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a young man, he dedicated himself to the civil rights movement and later to public service as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in Georgia’s 5th congressional district.
RWS Foundation Vice President, Alfred L. Watkins, grew up in Jackson, Georgia and faced the same kinds of racism and exclusion as John Lewis. Alfred’s first trumpet – given to his segregated school when the white school purchased brand new instruments – was missing a valve slide, forcing him to cover it up with his finger to properly play certain notes.
Despite significant obstacles, Alfred’s love for music as well as his determination and resilience led him to a distinguished career as an educator and conductor in the Metro Atlanta area.