As the US prepares for President Elect Trump to take office, it’s no secret the stir that has been created around his campaign. One side claiming him to be a bigot and a racist. The other calling him a harsh yet honest man. No matter who is correct, many minorities don’t seem too enthused with the upcoming administration. This is why it was such a surprise when Talladega College‘s marching band agreed to perform in Trump’s inaugural parade. “Why is that a surprise?” some may ask. Well Talladega is defined as a Historically Black College (HBCU). Why, when the minority community is at such odds with such a powerful politician, would a Black school want to openly support such a person? Some in the Black band world say: Exposure.
Talladega is not considered one of the country’s foremost college bands, or even one of the foremost Black bands. So the program has had its share of struggles within the school’s 152 year history. Some speculate that they could possibly be looking for a way to put their school/program on the map. Additional sources also report that many bands declined the invitation to perform, including Washington D.C. high schools that normally attend the event every 4-8 years. Other bands that attend must apply. Many who intended to apply ultimately chose not to, or rescinded their applications. This all begs the question, “Is Talladega’s band program desperate?” They could just be smarter than we all think.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment: Your the director of a struggling band program. You have been trying to find a way to have your band’s name mentioned among the top HBCU bands and the opportunities are not plenty. The country just got flipped on its head and you finally get that phone call. It’s for a candidate that your community doesn’t really support. What do you do?
Some folks have taken to the web to protest, amassing thousands of signatures in online petitions to the college. There are also anti-petitions, petitioning to allow the band to perform. Though the biggest protests of all could be in the personal posts and tweets. @drwgsi tweeted “No respect for a college seeking to play for a man that disrespected others 4 political gain. Shame on Talladega College.”
Whichever side of the coin you fall on, it is important that we (the band community) support the students, regardless of what the program has decided to do. At the end of the day, these are musicians that have gone to the next level and just want to perform their best. They have committed to their program and their director, in whatever decision is made. So as fellow musicians, lets lift them up and encourage them to perform at the highest level. We can leave the discussion about the decision to perform for another day.