Despite sparking national controversy, the historically black Talladega College confirmed that its marching band will perform at President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural parade.
Last Thursday, Talladega College President Billy Hawkins announced that the Tornado Marching Band would proceed in their preparations for their role in the 58th presidential inauguration after widespread debate over whether doing so would run counter to the mission of the institution.
Talladega College, founded by liberated slaves in 1867, is the oldest private historically black college in Alabama. The school received a swarm of online petitions and backlash from people who felt that the president-elect may enact policies that have long been disapproved of by the black community.
“There’s a great deal of fear in this country that the Voting Rights Act is going to be abolished, that the Affordable Care Act is going to be abolished, that Planned Parenthood is going to be cut off from funding,” 1956 alumnus J. Mason Davis told The New York Times. “Don’t you understand why we have a fear of the man?”
The college — which has an undergraduate population of less than 700 students — chose to accept the chance to perform to a global audience. The institution’s administration views the ceremony to be held on Jan. 20 not as a welcoming of Trump to office, but rather as a celebration of American democracy.
“We respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade,” Hawkins said to The New York Times. “As many of those who chose to participate in the parade have said, we feel the inauguration of a new president is not a political event but a civil ceremony celebrating the transfer of power."