Local News

NCCU band hoping to march in Obama's inaugural parade

Posted January 8, 2009 12:29 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Members of North Carolina Central University's band say they hold out hope that a last-minute bid will let them march in President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural parade.

The NCCU marching band gave a rousing welcome to the then-candidate when he spoke at their football stadium Nov. 1, 2007, while stumping for the Democratic nomination.

"I want to thank the outstanding marching band," Obama said that day.

Obama shook hands with band members after the rally, and some students took the chance to ask him if they could be in the inaugural parade if he won the election, band director Jorim Reid said.

"The students stated that (he told them that)if he's elected, he would look to getting the group into the parade," Reid said.

Reid said he didn't hear that promise himself, but he filled out the paperwork to apply for a slot in the parade, and students got excited about the prospect.

Then, shortly before the December holidays, a letter came from the Presidential Inaugural Parade Committee – saying that the band hadn't been selected to perform on Jan. 20.

"It's a really historical event we would all like to be a part of, and not being a part of it so far is really disappointing," NCCU freshman Adam Sobers said.

Reid said he was concerned about students' disappointment, but he found a clause that allows members of the Presidential Inaugural Committee to select a band to add to the lineup. So he wrote letters pleading the band's case to all the committee members, politicians from Gov.-elect Beverly Perdue to Sen. Hillary Clinton, and former Obama campaign staffers he worked with during the November 2007 visit.

"I feel that I have to do this for them, at least try," Reid said. He said he wants his students to have the chance, as he did, to march in an inaugural parade and "to find out what's like to like to be in Washington, what America is."

Officials with the inaugural committee said they were looking into what transpired during Obama's visit to NCCU.

The committee received a record number of applications to participate in the parade, officials said. And of the 1,300 applicants, only 90 could be picked.

NCCU band members said they would make every effort to be marching in the streets of the American capital Jan. 20.

"It doesn't matter if they call us on the 19th," NCCU senior and drum major Donald Parker said. "I will run. I will run to D.C. to actually get a chance to do this."