The month after the deadly Austin, Texas package bombing took place, a Change.org petition was launched to call for a posthumous music degree to be awarded to a Black teen victim.
Draylen Mason, 17, was killed and his mother wounded when an explosive package was opened in their kitchen on Monday, March 12. The bassist was known as a talented musician and had already been accepted into the selective Butler School of Music at the University of Texas-Austin.
“As a proud Oberlin Conservatory alumnus, and person of color in the arts industry, I call on the Oberlin Conservatory of Music to recognize Draylen Mason and his family’s struggle by awarding him a posthumous Bachelor of Music Degree,” wrote Joshua Blue, who is also a Black classically trained musician. “But most importantly, I challenge them to set up a fully funded scholarship in his name (with the permission of his family) for people of color to attend the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, continuing our institution’s role in changing the status quo around race in our profession and our country.”
Following his death, Mason was accepted into the prestigious Ohio school as part of the 2022 class. Blue, a 2016 graduate of the program, also noted in his petition that non-white people are consistently underrepresented in the industry.
CNN reported that although Blue has been in touch with Mason’s family about the Black musician being recognized with a scholarship fund, his family has not yet signed off on it.
Meanwhile, it seems many others have recognized the importance of having Mason be represented. The petition has earned more than 24,000 signatures and it closing in on its 25,000 signature goal.
“Saddened that he will not be able to experience this hard-won opportunity, but it brings me a little solace to know someone will be able to do so in his name,” a signee wrote.
“Heartfelt sympathy with this cause,” a 1975 graduate said.
“I hope more impressionable students with a desire to study music can achieve the same goals this young man will not be able to realize,” another wrote. “Let’s not look past this tragic death without making a positive move forward, keeping his spirit alive and the music play on.”