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Musician, publisher works to inspire youth (video)

By BY KELDY ORTIZ - KORTIZ@VICAD.COM
Feb. 8, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 8, 2013 at 8:09 p.m.


If You Go:

WHAT: Victoria Black History Month Parade

WHERE: Parade starts at Patti Welder Middle School, 1500 E. North St., and will end at the Victoria Community Center, 2905 E. North St., where the festival will begin.

WHEN: Parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday; festival begins after the parade and ends at 4 p.m.

Rick Perkins bio

Age: 70

Occupation: Musician

Hometown: Village of Brooklyn, Ill.

Education: Attended Eureka College

Family: Wife: Oscar Hernandez-Perkins. Children: Ricki Mills, Candase Veasey, Tanya Girdy.

Rick Perkins spends his time practicing the trumpet the same way he publishes his newsletter - with passion and persistence.

Since August 2008, Perkins has published the newsletter Voices United Publication of Victoria, a newsletter he distributes to show the multicultural makeup of Victoria.

The publication, which comes out every three months, profiles high school students and people of different professions. Of these individuals, most are ethnic minorities.

"I want to inspire all students to strive for excellence in the classroom and beyond," said Perkins. "The educational information (and) individual articles - that's how I try to motivate someone to be the best they can be."

The 70-year-old Illinois native is all about jazz music and having a good time, but when he focuses on a task, he is an example of commitment.

His newsletters contain stories with information he hopes others consider important.

Perkins first created the free newsletter after noticing the high school dropout rates in the area were high. He also wanted to put out a publication that highlighted the black community.

His wife, Oscar Hernandez-Perkins, is a Victoria native and graduate of Bloomington High School. She agreed that profiling people who are doing well in high school and professionally is a model for others to follow.

"It's made an impact," she said. "Kids call in to ask how they can be in the paper. We just tell them to get good grades."

Perkins moved to Victoria in 2005 after his wife wanted to tend to her father. Perkins later moved his mother from Illinois to tend to her.

Perkins admits he's no expert when it comes to the computer, so he reached out to others for help.

"I let him use our offices to create the paper, so he can be successful in all aspects of it," said Emett Alvarez, co-owner and publisher of Revista, a monthly bilingual publication in Victoria.

Alvarez showed Perkins how to produce a publication.

"He was trying to target a black readership," Alvarez said. "I thought it was a fantastic idea."

Perkins has contributing writers for the paper and works out of his home.

Perkins' decision to help young people comes from his own background. He recalled that in high school his band instructor helped him work on his musical skills. Perkins remembered someone taking time to instill wisdom that he used to play music.

"He (the teacher) passed on that excellence, which carried on in life for me," Perkins said. "I want to inspire people who are underachieving to achieve. When it comes to cultural pride, if I can influence particularly children of color, that's my purpose."

From high school, Perkins got into music professionally, playing for more than 20 years. He continues to play when he can, and he manages two bands, one in Los Angeles called the Rick Perkins Quintet and one in Houston called the Rick Perkins Band.

Like music to his ears, he enjoys the reactions about his paper, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary in August.

Perkins said he's learned a lot from the first paper and from his mistakes in publishing it.

"I can't stop doing this," he said. "The best paper is the next paper."

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