Alcorn’s Griffin inspired many

Published 7:30 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

His official title may have been director of bands, but during his time at Alcorn State University, Samuel Griffin was much more than that to the thousands of students who came through his program.

“He was such a father figure, that my father was deceased at the time that I got married and he actually gave me away at my wedding,” Vicksburg resident Grace Brown who played in the band from 1975 to 1979 said. “He was a mentor in every sense of the word. He was a father-like figure to those of us who had a father and those of us who didn’t.”

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Griffin, who served as the director of bands at Alcorn from 1969 to 2012, died Friday, Aug. 4, at the age of 71.

Griffin started his career at Alcorn in 1966 as the assistant band director before taking charge three years later. He is credited with giving the band their nickname Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite and for creating the Golden Girls and Purple Flashers Flag Corp.

“His lasting impact on the band is what I call inclusiveness,” current director of bands at Acorn Renardo R. Murray said. “He did his best to include everyone in the program. He gave us chances to be good. His biggest attribute was he accepted everybody no matter what. No matter our music ability or where we came from, he put us on the same page and we were accepted.”

Griffin was a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity for 50 years and following a public visitation Friday at Lakeview Memorial Service a private Omega Service was held. A viewing will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Word of Faith Christian Center, located on 3525 Wisconsin Avenue, and the funeral will follow at 1 p.m.

“He was a person who always told you the right thing to do,” Brown said. “Even if you didn’t want to hear it. He always guided us in the direction he felt that we should go.

“He was an important part of my life and I am going to miss him. He was like my father.”

Murray said Griffin left behind a legacy that must be upheld at Alcorn and his impact has been felt even since his retirement.

“Mr. Griffin had a very valuable impact on the band,” Murray said. “He founded the band. He taught 1,000s of students and gave them the opportunity to go to school. Not only a teacher, he was a role model for them.”

The band hall at Alcorn was renamed for Griffin in 2016 and in January he was presented with Honda Battle of the Bands’ Honoree Award for his impact on Historically Black College and University marching bands.

Griffin is survived by his wife Peggy, two sons, Samuel and Christopher, three daughters, Daphne, Christine and Jessica, his sister Carrie as well as 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.