Did Magic City Classic officials snub Talladega’s band for marching at Trump inaugural?

Times Staff Report

The Talladega College Marching Tornado Band (Facebook)

Talladega College’s marching band will not participate in the Magic City Classic Parade and school president Billy C. Hawkins is wondering whether the snub is related to his controversial decision to allow the institution to participate in President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Hawkins this week issued a press release expressing disappointment that the Marching Tornado will not be able to participate in the Classic Parade this year and said he “hoped” that the decision was not political. The Talladega Marching Band did participate the past five years.

“To say that we are disappointed is an understatement,” Hawkins said. “The Talladega College Band continues to grow in prominence. The band has participated in numerous parades, including the 58th Presidential Inaugural Parade. I am aware that some were not happy that we allowed our students to participate in this great opportunity. I just hope that politics was not a factor in this decision.”

Hawkins’ decision to allow the 150-year old school’s band to participate in Trump’s inauguration led to significant national press coverage and more than a few condemnations from alumni of Talladega and others. On the other hand, Talladega’s participation led to more than $900,000 in donations in support of the band.

Angel Lewis, senior public relations and marketing director for the Bruno Event Team, representing the Classic, referred the Times to Alabama State and Alabama A&M Universities. As of press time, neither university had responded to requests for comment.

According to the McDonald’s Magic City Classic webpage, this year, only high school bands are participating. The site lists some 34 high school bands, and numerous other parade participant groups, but no colleges.

Hawkins said his office was notified Sept.12 that Talladega’s application to perform had been denied. An email cited “construction in the downtown Birmingham area” as the reason no college band could participate.

“Group organizers have not said whether Alabama State and Alabama A&M, the two colleges participating in the Magic City Classic will march in the parade,” the Talladega press release notes. “Upon further investigation, President Hawkins has been left with numerous questions and doubts.”

Not being able to march will “disappoint not only the students and especially the 20 band students from Birmingham; faculty and staff, but the many Talladega College alums who attend the event each year,” Hawkins said.