When Florida A&M and Mississippi Valley State meet up on Sept. 1 (11:45 a.m. ET on ESPN) in the ninth annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney in Orlando, FAMU will be looking to get its win in two appearances at this event.
Just as significant will be the return of its marching band, the Florida A&M University “Marching 100.” The band, which had been on suspension following the hazing death of Robert Champion in November of 2011, is looking forward to making music again, and doing it the right way.
Sylvester Young, FAMU’s director of marching and pep bands, announced today that the “Marching 100” will have fewer members than past years, as a result of new, more rigorous guidelines for participation. “We have made a thorough assessment of the students who have auditioned for the band and firmly believe that we are ready to return and positively represent Florida A&M and its proud students, faculty, alumni and community,” remarked Young. “We embark on this season reflective of the circumstances that led to the band’s suspension and optimistic that this is a new day for the band and the university. Our goal is to support the mission of the university and use this program to recruit top scholars and elevate the stature of the university.”
As an HBCU graduate, this is all very good to hear. With its halftime “Battle of the Bands,” the MEAC/SWAC Challenge will provide a great opportunity for both schools to showcase what HBCU supporters around the world already know: that the marching band experience is a show all to itself. Members of the “Marching 100” and MVSU’s “Marching Mean Green Machine” know this.
In the world of HBCUs, FAMU’s band has always been considered one of the best. Said FAMU’s interim president Larry Robinson: “As the ‘Marching 100’ returns to the field, we believe that it will be a model of excellence for other bands in the country as we focus on its founding principles of character, academics, leadership, marching and service.”
Here’s to hoping that their Sept. 1 performance will truly mark the beginning of a new era, one that we can again be proud of.