By Jazmin Gathers
The inauguration of President Trump sparked conversation all across the country, especially at historically black colleges and universities. The marching band of Talladega College, an HBCU in Alabama, played in the inauguration parade Friday afternoon along with Grammy award winning artist Chrisette Michele who sang during the inauguration as well.
While many HBCU students and alumni disagreed with Talladega’s decision, Alex Lidell Jr., a senior in Talladega’s The Great Tornado marching band, felt many people weren’t realizing the opportunity at hand.
“Majority of the responses were nothing positive because people were looking at the inauguration as a political thing and not seeing what we cared about, which was the experience,” said Lidell Jr.
While the backlash for their decision came in every angle, Lidell Jr. said his band coach prepared them for the negative responses from everyone.
“He let us know that this isn’t just about Trump but more of showing Talladega College in the best light as possible,” said Lidell Jr.
Lidell Jr. believed the people that did not support the bands decision were failing to see what this opportunity could do for the students as well as the university. Many of the band members, including Lidell Jr., had never been to Washington, D.C.
“We as a band could care less about a Donald Trump, this was our chance to see what the D.C. had to offer,” said Lidell Jr.
Chrisette Michele faced similar backlash for her decision, but less support than Talladega. She admits to being disowned by her family for her decision, but credits her choice to the opportunity, not politics.
Chrisette Michele went on The Breakfast Club to say that she needed President Trump to see what we looked like and for our voices to be heard.
She received negativity from social media as well as other public figures for her decision. Spike Lee took to Instagram to say that he will no longer be using Chrisette Michele’s music in his new Netflix series after her decision to perform at inauguration.
While other artists declined their invitation to perform at inauguration, Chrisette Michele chose to use the opportunity to bring a voice to the White House. She also chose to advocate for Black Lives Matter at the inauguration by wearing a skirt designed by Basquiat that depicted police brutality against the black community.
“I think that the most important thing for us to do now is talk to each other and to people who we may have never spoken to and begin to understand each other’s struggle to see what we do have in common so that we can see where we can unite and what we can fight together. … With No Political Genius, that is my goal — just to begin the conversation,” said Chrisette Michele.
No Political Genius is Chrisette Michele’s new television show that bridges the gap between elected officials and everyday people who don’t understand everything that goes on within the government.
Contrary to what many may think, this day was not about President Trump, but about what The Great Tornado marching band was able to do for their school and what Chrisette Michele was able to do for the black community.
Regardless of how people may have felt about President Trump’s inauguration or their decision to play at inauguration, it is undeniable that this has been a historic election and inauguration and a great opportunity that sets the stage for the same feeling that former President Obama gave us: Hope.