Critics be damned. Talladega College, Alabama’s oldest historically black college, still plans to send its marching band to usher in President-elect Donald Trump at his inauguration, despite objections from alumni. And on Thursday they explained why.
“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,” Billy Hawkins, the college’s president, said in a statement.
William Harvey, the president of Hampton University, another historically black college (and a Talladega alum) backed Hawkins’ decision.
“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 his own statement. “After all, the reason for being of any college or university should be to promote learning and not to enhance a political agenda.”
Talladega was first founded in 1867 by former slaves and is (so far) the only black college to be invited to be a part of Trump’s inauguration.
The White House isn’t footing the bill. According to BuzzFeed News, the school has to raise $60,000 in order to travel and participate in the inauguration.
And they’ve already got Grady Thornton, a member of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee. “I have access to the contact information to all 400+ members of the Alabama Republican Party,” he told local paper the Anniston Star on Wednesday. “I will start the process with a $100.00 contribution.”