When Donald Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee released its official list of inauguration performers, an unlikely name appeared on the list: Talladega College. Talladega, located in Alabama, is the oldest private, historically black liberal arts college in the nation and the school’s decision to have its marching band perform at Trump’s inaugural parade was not without backlash.
Talladega alumni, including Shirley Pratt Ferrill, class of 1974, have denounced the school’s decision to perform. Ferrill started a petition on Change.org asking Talladega not to send its marching band, the Tornadoes, to the inauguration Jan. 20.
“As an alumnus, I respectfully request that Talladega College Band withdraw from any inaugural events for Donald Trump,” the petition, which has garnered 263 of the 500 signatures it’s asking for as of Tuesday. “In view of his behavior and comments I strongly do not want Talladega College to give the appearance of supporting him.”
“We were a bit horrified to hear of the invitation. I don’t want my alma mater to give the appearance of supporting him,” Ferrill told the Associated Press. “Ignore, decline or whatever, but please don’t send our band out in our name to do that.”
Some students, on the other hand, are standing by the college. A petition rivaling Ferrill’s was started on Change.org by Dollan Young, a current student at Talladega. His petition emphasized the experience over the politics of the event.
“We believe that this parade is not about politics it’s about seeing first hand the process of a transition,” the petition stated. “Its not to support of no political party its about the experience that students will obtain. We are not one track thinkers and believe everyone is entitled to our own beliefs. However we are in support of The United States of America.” Young’s petition has 62 of the 100 it is asking for so far.
The disagreement surrounding Talladega’s decision to perform is not nearly the first controversy arising from Trump’s inauguration. After the Mormon Tabernacle Choir announced it would be singing at the inauguration, a member of the group resigned. Jan Chamberlin said in a Facebook post that she wouldn’t be able to look herself in the mirror if she sang at the inauguration and likened the President-elect to Hitler.