- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2017

The president of Alabama’s oldest private historically black college announced Thursday that the decision for the school’s marching band to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration will stand despite several days of backlash.

The Talladega Marching Tornadoes initially accepted an invitation this week to march in the parade at the Jan. 20 event, but a surge of backlash caused Talladega College President Billy C. Hawkins to reconsider the performance.

Talladega College, Alabama’s oldest private historically black liberal arts college, was founded in 1867 by the descendants of the slaves who helped to build its first building, according to the college’s website. Shirley Ferrill, a 1974 graduate of the school, launched a Change.org petition calling on the band to withdraw from Mr. Trump’s inauguration because of the president-elect’s “behavior and comments” that she said run contrary to the school’s mission.

“We have a reputation of fighting for freedom and equal rights and justice and he doesn’t stand for any of that,” Ms. Ferrill told CNN.

As of Thursday morning, her petition had more than 1,800 signatures.

Mr. Hawkins said he did not rush to accept the invitation to perform at the inauguration because he wanted to “hear and consider the thoughts and feelings of the Talladega College community,” CNN reported.

He made his final decision in a statement Thursday, saying the “lessons students can learn from this experience cannot be taught in a classroom.”

“We respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade,” Mr. Hawkins said. “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.”

A petition supporting Talladega College’s decision to perform had 390 signatures as of Thursday morning.

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