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Statue to feature uniform of the first Black drum major at Muskegon Heights High School

Floyd Cook Jr. designed his own uniform when he became the drum major in 1958.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — A Muskegon Heights park is set to undergo renovation in the next year. At the center of the project, a statue honoring the high school's marching band.

That statue is not only significant to the city, but especially meaningful to long-time resident, Floyd Cook, Jr.

"This city is home for me," says Cook. "I was part of the school system all the way from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade graduations."

Always an artistic mind, Cook put that to use as a member of the marching band.

"My musical career started in junior high school at about the seventh grade," he says.

But as a middle school saxophone player, he didn't have any idea he'd soon make history.

"It was my band director that put me in the history books, really," says Cook.

That opportunity came in 1958, when band director Albert Meerzo asked the 16-year-old Cook to be the band's drum major.

"Wow, my eyes lit up," he remembers.

And just like that, he became the first Black drum major in school history.

"I was very proud and honored to take that role," says Cook.

His biggest hang up, each drum major before him had been a girl and they were all excellent with batons.

"I didn't know how to twirl a baton," he laughs.

Cook also was tasked with putting together his own uniform. And now, just like Cook, the uniform will go down in history, too.

It's set to be featured on a statue of a drum major coming to Rowan Park in 2023.

Cook performed with the marching band at the park back in the day, and he's proud the spirit of the band will return to the park once again.

"It just brings me a lot of pride to still remember way back when and bringing out the further greatness of the city of Muskegon Heights," says Cook.

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