As part of Black History Month presented by The University of New Mexico's African American Student Services, Department of Music Associate Professor Dr. Richard White presents a motivational talk on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m.

A documentary, R.A.W.Tuba: From Sandtown to Symphony, featuring White will be streamed followed by a talk about his story - a story of perseverance and the power of overcoming, and resilience and determination, his favorite subjects when giving motivational speeches. The documentary and talk will be available on Zoom at

“If someone asked me what I would most want to talk about, that’s my favorite thing to talk about; that is what is most passionate to me,” said White. “It’s about the American dream in a sense that regardless of your circumstances, success is still a possibility. I think resilience is really important because what I find most these days, whether it’s COVID or whatever when kids fail, they quit. The ability to bounce back is not always present and I just want the kids to know that you have got to keep swinging.”

White’s story itself is one of determination, inspiration and perseverance and is eloquently presented in the documentary released a couple of years ago. The documentary tells a story about a Baltimore kid who experienced intermittent homelessness while frequently looking for his mom, who was battling alcoholism, while his biological father was imprisoned. He was left on his own often sleeping on a cardboard bed under trees, eating out of trash cans, stashing food whenever he could and using a water fountain in a city park as a place to clean up. But White keeps swinging and never gives up despite the challenges and obstacles he faced.

His life begins to unfold and change dramatically after his adoption by Vivian and Richard McClain, and the discovery of the tuba in mid-school. Subsequently, he was fortunate enough to be educated at several of the most prestigious music schools under some of the toughest musical instructors in the U.S. White managed to persevere and went on to become the first African American in the world to receive a Doctorate of Music in Tuba. The inspiring journey is told by Baltimore-filmmakers Darren Durlach and David Larson of Early Light Media, who were led to White as they searched for stories to personalize the power of arts education in their city.

The release of the documentary, which has been shown at numerous film festivals and recently on DirecTV, has also provided White, whose initials, R.A.W., spell out Richard Antoine White, a bigger platform for another passion of his – motivational speaking – where his increased popularity has helped to promote his passions, both personal and professional, in a variety of social arenas. His website,, is a place where he shares inspirational thoughts and philosophies that have helped shape him into the person he is today.

White was also signed recently by APB, a global speaker agency with over 50 years of celebrity, political and business industry experience with powerful personalities including Dan Rather, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Samantha Harris, John Quiñones, Samantha Harris, Mia Sorvino and Steve Wozniak among others.

“My philosophy is believe in your dreams, but realize the secret to success is to work hard, work even harder, work as hard as you can,” said White. “When I give speeches, I always say ‘who wants to know the secret to success?’ This is always an ‘Aha’ moment because they are always waiting for two and three thinking something different is going to come up. And that really is the secret – work hard, work even harder, work as hard as you can, and they go ‘That’s it!?’”

White also has a book scheduled to be released later this year titled “I'm Possible: A Story of Survival, a Tuba and the Small Miracle of a Big Dream,” a tell-all piece that will go into further in-depth about White’s life story. The book is scheduled to be released in early-October.

For more information on Black History Month events sponsored by African American Student Services, visit Events Calendar.