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Talladega College is defending the participation of its band in the parade that will honor the inauguration of Donald Trump as president this month. For about 10 days, reports have circulated that the historically black college's band would participate, and the Trump inaugural committee listed the college among those with bands that would march. The college has repeatedly refused comment even as many students and alumni questioned the idea, saying they view the president-elect as hostile to black people and their interests.

The college has now released a statement in which President Billy Hawkins defends the decision. “We respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade,” said Hawkins. “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.”

The statement includes several quotes from William R. Harvey, a Talladega alumnus who is the president of Hampton University. “It will be a wonderful learning experience for the students in the band. It will be a teachable moment for them to understand the importance of supporting the leader of the free world, despite one's political viewpoint,” said Harvey. “After all, the reason for being of any college or university should be to promote learning and not to enhance a political agenda.”