Students, alumni demand marching bands ditch inauguration
- Students and alumni from Talladega College and the University of Tennessee are protesting their marching bands' planned participation in Donald Trump's inauguration parade, complaining it gives "the appearance of supporting him."
- Some band members and other students, however, are disappointed by the controversy, saying they view the inauguration as a way of increasing their visibility and participating in the democratic process.
Following the release of a list of confirmed performers for the inauguration events, petitions have emerged to pressure college marching bands into backing out.
Talladega College, a historically black college in Alabama, has come under fire after accepting an invitation to march in the inauguration parade, with a petition to cancel the planned appearance garnering more than 1,700 signatures as of press time.
“I respectfully request that Talladega College Band withdraw from any inaugural events for Donald Trump,” states the petition created by Shirley Ferrill, an alumna. “In view of his behavior and comments I strongly do not want Talladega College to give the appearance of supporting him.”
A counter petition, which had received nearly 400 signatures at press time, was also created to urge the band not to back out.
“As a supporter of the Talladega College Band I am in agreement that Talladega College Band should participate in the 58th Presidential Inauguration Parade,” the counter-petition asserts. “We believe that this parade is not about politics[;] it’s about seeing first hand the process of a transition.”
Concerns about the performance have also surfaced on social media, with many observers declaring that the band should not participate because Trump is “a racist.”
“Talladega College's Administrators, who are forcing their band members, the 'Marching Tornadoes' to march for Trump, a racist[,] is disgusting,” one Twitter post asserted.
“Talladega College deserves all the backlash they’re [sic] getting !!” declared another.
A third post employed even more provocative terminology, suggesting that “#TalladegaCollege needs to be sent in to [sic] exile with Kanye” because “The level of disrespect.....to be Orange Satan's Sambos for the day is pathetic.”
A member of the Talladega band, Shylexis Robinson told WVTM 13 that she was “very excited” about the performance, and thinks “it’ll put our school on the map” to be seen at such a high-profile event.
“It’s not so much about Donald Trump, it’s about our school, and I’m all about our school and all about our band,” Robinson explained, adding, “I feel like it’s a good idea.”
Meanwhile, a similar petition calling for the University of Tennessee (UT) marching band not to participate in the presidential inauguration parade has attracted more than 3,200 signatories.
The petition signed by “Concerned Citizens and Alumni” asks the band not to march because “according to the band’s own homepage, the band typically represents the State of Tennessee at presidential inaugurations.”
“We are greatly disturbed by the behavior exhibited by Donald Trump both during and after the recent presidential campaign,” the petition states. “He has made racist and sexist remarks that should never come out of the mouth of someone in public office. We believe that the attendance at the upcoming inauguration of a band representing the state of Tennessee would condone this behavior.”
According to Politico, Trump won 92 of the 95 counties in Tennessee.
“As alumni, we believe that no university should risk its reputation and credibility by welcoming such ignorance and celebrating a man like Trump,” the petition says.
Some students, however, believe that capitulating to the demands to withdraw from the inauguration would itself cause damage to the school’s reputation, arguing that it would be seen as nothing more than a political stunt.
“It’s honestly an embarrassment some of the comments I have seen from people of the #notmypresident crowd saying that a university band should not perform at a presidential inauguration just because one side lost an election,” Nick Crawford, a UT sophomore and the CEO of The Volunteer Review, told Campus Reform. “If Hillary Clinton won, conservatives would not be forming a petition for the band not to perform. It’s an honor to be invited, they need to grow up and stop behaving like adolescents.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @kassydillon