The Marching 100 returned yesterday to a Half Time show between FAMU and Mississippi Valley State. It’s reputation as one of the elite Marching Band units at the College level is sadly tarnished, and it’s reputation as an HBCU tradition is at it’s lowest point. Hopefully the new School President, Band Leader, and students can return the unit, and the traditions it represented before the scandal back to the heights the band once enjoyed.
Twenty-two months after Florida A&M University’s band was suspended in the wake of a hazing death of a drum major, it was back on the field Saturday, performing at the season-opener against Mississippi Valley State.
The Marching 100 was not allowed to perform after Robert Champion collapsed and died after a hazing ritual on a bus in November 2011. That suspension was lifted in June, after the resignation of the band’s longtime director and the university president.
The scandal resulted in charges of manslaughter and felony hazing being placed against 15 former band members. Seven have made plea deals, another has a deal but has not been sentenced and the other seven await trial, according to the Associated Press.
The parents of the hazing victim, who have filed wrongful death lawsuits against FAMU and the bus company, told the AP that they believed the return of the band was “too soon.”
“I don’t see anything that’s different to ensure the safety of those students,” Pam Champion said. “Everything that has been put in place is not something that was done voluntarily.”
Larry Robinson, the university’s interim president, announced the decision to strike up the band, saying it would be “a model of excellence for other bands across this nation. It will actually focus on its founding principles of character, academics, leadership, marching and service.”
On Saturday, the band was back on the field at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.