Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Drumlines - Marching through History

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) are institutions of higher learning that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the African American community. There are more than 100 historically black colleges in the United States, located almost exclusively in the Southeast.

The HBCU were established after the Civil War as places of dignity and hope where young people had an opportunity to become professionals instead of maids or laborers. Along with the private black colleges and universities founded later by the AMA, these reconstruction era schools became the backbone of higher education for African Americans.

It was in these bastions of higher education that the tradition of the show style marching band was born. The tradition began over fifty years ago at Florida A&M University, which has been long considered the nation’s preeminent black college marching band school. HBCU marching bands began, as most do, as support for the college football team. They have since grown into a sport of their own, featuring characteristic high stepping, funky dance rhythms, and exciting musical repertoire ranging from classical to Top 40.

Celebrations of HBCU marching culminate in competitions such as the Big Southern Classic and the Bayou Classic. These competitions, which draw audiences of roughly 60,000 fans each, are a testament to the popularity of the sport. But it is only recently, with films such as Drumline, and backed by a flurry of high profile marching band appearances, that this tradition has begun to capture the imagination of the American public.

Check out these other great videos about Marching Bands and HBCUs:

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