he transfer of power at the Presidential level recently struck an unfamiliar chord. Talladega College, the historically black college in Alabama will send its marching band to perform in the January 20th presidential inaugural parade in Washington, D.C.
The decision by the university’s president, Billy Hawkins, to send the university’s Marching Tornadoes, was at the very least, highly controversial in light of the president-elect and the national outcry over how an institution founded by newly freed slaves 150 years ago, would seemingly betray its own core values.
But as first reported in the New York Times, Mr. Hawkins issued a statement saying that the 58th presidential inauguration is bigger than any president, even a polarizing one. That the festivities have more to do with the civil celebration of the transfer of power than a political event. Be that as it may, the controversy has stirred emotional responses and split students, alumni and the small town of nearly 15,000.
The Endeleo Institute recently announced its 2017 Spring Break College Tour to the State of Alabama. Talladega College, a school long affiliated with the United Church of Christ, is among the seven colleges that will be visited. The irony lies in the fact that enrollment in black colleges has soared of late, due in large part to racial tensions at predominantly white institutions across the country and the preference among black students (and their parents) to attend schools with more black faculty, staff and an environment conducive to freer expression. Of course, for decades the Trinity Higher Education Corporation (THEC) program has been a strong supporter of HBCUs through its bus tours and college fairs, including our most recent collaborative event this past October in partnership with the United Negro College Fund. With THEC firmly under the Endeleo Education umbrella, we envision exciting new opportunities to enlighten young people at the elementary level about HBCUs as viable alternatives, particularly for first generation college students.
Say what you will about the inauguration but Talladega is getting a world class education in civic engagement that will help shape their politics. Isn’t that exactly what we need?