Talladega band raises more than $300K after signing on to perform in Trump inaugural parade
- The New York Times reports on Talladega College and its campaign to raise money in support of a planned trip for its marching band to perform in Donald Trump's inaugural parade.
- The school, which has faced harsh criticism from alumni and HBCU advocates, has raised more than $300,000 since its president Billy Hawkins appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" to discuss the criticism of a black college band performing for a president deemed by detractors to be racially inflammatory and insensitive.
- School officials have maintained that the trip is a learning experience and a showing of support for the nation's tradition of the transition of power from one president to another.
The Talladega marching band story will resonate in higher education for a long time, because it is a case study on the intersections of politics, money and perceived liberalism of the industry. Talladega, a school with fewer than 1,000 students, cannot afford to turn down the money associated with the trip, or the resulting publicity; and so it will head to Washington in spite of criticism from its own group of stakeholders.
For other college leaders, the lesson is to open conversations with alumni and media outlets to broach potentially controversial topics early in the process, rather than having people discover information and post it to social media with an editorial spin which may shape others' reactions.