To Go, or Not to Go: Talladega College Wrestles With Invitation to Trump Inauguration

When the list of participants for the festivities surrounding the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States was released, the Marching Tornadoes of historically Black Talladega College in Alabama were listed as one of the bands that would appear in inaugural parade.

While no official statement by the college was released, an announcement of the college’s Facebook page read, “Now hear ye, hear ye! The Great Tornado has been chosen to participate in President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration parade. This is a monumentus [sic] achievement for not only the College and the band program but, for the entire state of Alabama!”

A graduate of the college Shirley Ferrill stated an online petition at Change.org entitled “Get Talladega College to Withdraw From the Inaugural Parade for Donald Trump.” Her stated position on Donald Trump is that “in view of his behavior and comments I strongly do not want Talladega College to give the appearance of supporting him.” As of January 5, more than 1,800 people had signed the petition.

Another petition, calling for the band to participate in the inaugural parade was started by Dollan Young, a student at the college. One signer of this petition stated “this is a once in a life chance for the current members of the band. They worked hard and deserve a chance to show off and show out.” As of Janaury 5, 392 people had signed Young’s petition.

On Tuesday, January 3, the college issued a statement saying that President Billy Hawkins had not decided if the band would participate and that a decision would be forthcoming. On Thursday, January 5, President Hawkins said that the band would go to Washington for the parade. In a statement, President Hawkins said “we respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade. 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.” President Hawkins added that “lessons students can learn from this experience cannot be taught in a classroom.”

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