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Talladega College, Alabama’s oldest HBCU, has received an incredible amount of criticism for accepting an invitation for its marching band to perform during President-elect Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day parade.

Dr. Bill Hawkins, president of Talladega College, spoke with Roland Martin during a NewsOne Now / Tom Joyner Morning Show simulcast to discuss his school marching band’s decision to participate in Trump’s inaugural parade.

Hawkins explained the HBCU does not have a football team, but the university has a 230-student show-band that applies to appear in parades all across the country. The application for the band to perform in the Inauguration Day parade was sent in prior to the election.

After Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Talladega College decided to continue with its plans to attend. Dr. Hawkins said, “I did not view this as a political event … I view it as a civic ceremony and an opportunity for our students to observe the process of the transition of power.”

He added, “Many of our students––almost all of them––have never had the opportunity to travel to our nation’s capital.”

Dr. Hawkins also explained he vetted the decision to participate in the Inauguration Day festivities with the band and Talladega’s students, and said, “They were excited to go and participate.”

Hawkins acknowledged the backlash for their decision to perform at Trump’s inauguration and said, “We’re not doing this for political reasons.” 

Even though the HBCU’s marching band is slated to perform in Washington, D.C. on January 20th, they still lack the funds needed to make the journey to Pennsylvania Avenue. Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, the largest Black owner of TV stations in America, has offered to pay the $60,000 the Talladega Marching Tornadoes need to make the trip.

Dr. Hawkins said he and the Talladega school board are considering Willams’ offer and are expecting more donations to their GoFundMe page.

Watch Roland Martin, Tom Joyner, and Dr. Bill Hawkins discuss the Talladega College marching band’s decision to attend Donald Trump’s inauguration in the video clip above.

Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

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