Somewhere on campus on any given day there glistens a brilliant man on a platform rapping his heart out. As the sun beats down, the sweat rolls down his face and his words flow from his mouth to the beat of the music blaring through his headphones. He tightly grasps a water bottle in his hands to replicate a microphone and he paces back and forth, just as his students grasp on to the knowledge he facilitates during their classes. This eccentric man is known professionally as Dr. Reuben May, a professor in the Department of Sociology at Texas A&M. However, he is known by some 250 devoted fans as the charismatic alter ego, Reginald Stuckey.
The Stuckey sensation began when a student motivated him to perform live in 2011. Dr. May stated that the inspiration for Stuckey came when he played college basketball in the 80’s and was a disk-jockey attending Aurora University in Illinois. During his time at Aurora University, Dr. May further developed the persona and when he realized his athletic career was going to be short-lived it was then that Reginald Stuckey got his name.
Dr. May’s glasses flash in the light as he reflects on a basketball shot where he exclaims, “Stuckey shoots, Stuckey scores!” In fact, he continues to be an avid basketball fan and is a faithful season ticket holder of the women’s basketball team at Texas A&M. May is elated, conveying how he received his PhD from the University of Chicago, the top sociology program in the nation . As he grins from ear-to-ear, he credits his mother’s strong support for instilling in him fundamental values. Afterwards, he went on to pursue a career in the education field as a professor at the University of Georgia, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visiting professor at MIT, and most recently Texas A&M University. He also holds a title as a research fellow at Harvard, and has an endowment of teaching awards worth over $30,000. In addition, he has written two notable books: Talking at Trena’s, and Living Through the Hoop, the winner of the 2008 Association for Humanist Sociology Book of the Year Award. His experiences today are far from his days as a paperboy and custodian in his hometown of Chicago. Reflecting on his memories of success, he states, “I do not consider Stuckey a separate entity from myself, but Stuckey is the embodiment of my creativity and courage.”
Dr. May delights in achieving what he calls “a balance in life.” This notion was initiated after funerals stimulated thoughts about mortality in him. He wants to share his knowledge and reflect on a lifetime of memories, accomplished through his teaching and rapping. His rapping not only provides a medium for the knowledge he teaches his students, but also is a way for him to chronicle his life. He writes lyrics that represent situations that his students understand, and some lyrics act as placeholders that represent personal memories true to his heart. His freelance rapping plays a vital role in creating bonds with many of his students, some of whom have become longtime friends. Dr. May chuckles as he expresses how unorthodox he might seem to some, being a professor who raps. Yet, people who know him understand that there is much more meaning to his rapping than what strangers perceive. To his dismay, he has encountered many hurdles filming his music video, such as lewd finger gestures and the arrival of police officers. He is intrigued by the little details he discovers happening in the background and enjoys anything that helps him understand and examine human interactions.
The Reginald Stuckey sensation has certainly ignited and is spreading on and off campus. He has been featured in Texas Monthly and has held live concerts in his hometown of Chicago and at Texas A&M. It is not sure how many people he will reach in the end but it is known that the students and people he has met along his journey have created positive experiences and bonds for both. So the next time you walk by a vivacious man rapping with a water bottle, it just might be Reginald Stuckey.