The marching band of Talladega College, a historically black institution, will participate in President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural parade on Friday, and the decision has the backing of alumnus and Hampton University President William R. Harvey.
Talladega’s President Billy Hawkins announced the decision for the Marching Tornadoes to participate in a news release Jan. 5, and cited a letter of support from Harvey.
“It will be a wonderful learning experience for the students in the band. It will be a teachable moment for them to understand the importance of supporting the leader of the free world, despite one’s political viewpoint,” Harvey said in the release. “After all, the reason for being of any college or university should be to promote learning and not to enhance apolitical agenda. …
“In my view, it is an honor to be invited to the inauguration of any president of the United States. The college and its band are celebrating the peaceful transition of power — a hallmark of America’s democracy and swearing in of a new president,” he said.
Talladega College was founded in 1867 by former slaves, and was the first in Alabama to admit African-American students.
The release acknowledges that the college’s participation has been met with both praise and condemnation. It states that “the administration did not rush to accept the invitation to participate, because they wanted to hear and consider the thoughts and feelings of the Talladega College community.”
Harvey graduated from Talladega in 1961 with a degree in history. In 2014, he and his wife Norma gave $1 million to the college in hopes of building the William R. Harvey Art Museum.
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