Why is this Alabama HBCU Marching Band Threatening to Call it Quits?
The heartbeat of many HBCUs is the pride that you have for your institution. According to the UNCF, there are "currently 101 HBCUs in the nation." The history of HBCUs, "African Americans and higher education is a long one, with roots reaching as far back as the Civil War."
Another facet of HBCUs is the marching band experience. It is a crucial part of HBCU culture. How do I know? I was a marching Wildcat for Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Florida, from 1988-1992.
As popular as football season has become, marching band season is just as popular. I would even go as far as to say even more important at some schools than the football team win-loss ratio. No one leaves an HBCU football game during halftime. It's an oath that we all take.
When I heard the news about an HBCU threatening a boycott, this got my attention.
On Twitter, the Tuskegee University SGA tweeted the "official statement on behalf of the concerned members of the Tuskegee University Marching Crimson Piper Band." It was addressed to "Dear Mother Tuskegee Administration, Students, and Alumni."
It listed their prominent concerns like leadership, funding, recruitment, dietary needs not met while traveling, lack of communication, housing for students, scholarships, uniforms and instruments in disrepair, and more.
My heart sank.
I'm proud of them for taking a stand. Also, the statement noted that they "will no longer allow ourselves to be exploited simply on the basis that we 'signed up for it.' And we will no longer allow for the apathetic nature that has been granted to us, as we strive to not only hold our leadership accountable but our fellow band members both current and future."
The hashtags tell a deeper story
According to HBCU Sports, a statement was released by Charlotte P. Morris, Tuskegee President. It noted that they recognize the important role of the Marching Crimson Piper Band. The President said they "look forward to meeting with band leaders to discuss and respond to their concerns." Also, Morris thanked the Tuskegee community for their support as they "work to resolve these issues together."
I hope people understand that being a marching band member is hard work. It's lots of hours practicing, keeping your grades up, providing entertainment not only for halftime but pep rallies, parades, public appearances that benefit the school. It's a full-time job. I hope they come to a resolution soon, and the Marching Crimson Piper Band students can get back to doing what they love.