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Drum major's death echoes beyond revered band
Parents and officlas are scrutinizing black college marching bands after the death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion.
November 26th, 2011
07:52 AM ET

Drum major's death echoes beyond revered band

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

(CNN) - Knees fly high. Hips swivel. Trombones sway. Bass drums thump. Tubas bellow. Cymbals crash.

The scene - with its electrifying soundtrack - is a major draw at many historically black colleges and universities, where throngs of students turn out for marching band performances.

"The bands are so entertaining that people attend these games for the halftime show. ... People sit in their seats at halftime. They leave in the third quarter. It's just big," said Christy Walker, 36, who runs a website dedicated to black college marching band culture.

For the past week, the message boards on Walker's website have been buzzing with passionate posts about the situation at Florida A&M University (FAMU). The school fired the band director and stopped all performances of its famous "Marching 100" after authorities said they suspect hazing caused the death of a 26-year-old drum major.

As authorities investigate the student's death, the accusations surrounding the widely revered and imitated band could have an impact far beyond the Florida university's campus.

"There are a lot of great bands, over 50 or so, but FAMU is definitely the most well-known out there. ... They have set a lot of trends throughout the years," said Walker, who played clarinet in the band at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. "They're just very innovative in a lot of the concepts that they do, and a lot of that has spread to other bands."

For decades, the band has been adored by many who never even joined its ranks, said Lawrence Patrick III, 36, the CEO of a technology start-up in San Francisco who played bass drum in the Marching 100 for two years.

"It's not just something people from FAMU are proud of. It's something that black people in general are really proud of," he said.

'It was magic'

Bill Maxwell watched FAMU's Marching 100 perform for the first time when he was in middle school. Decades later, the memory remains as crisp as their bright orange and green uniforms.

"It was the most thrilling thing I'd ever seen," said Maxwell, now 66. "I didn't know anyone could really move their legs that fast. When they were marching, you could barely see their legs move. It was magic."

Opinion: What I learned from the FAMU marching band

Back home, Maxwell marched with his friends in a recently plowed field. They carried sticks that they pretended were instruments. He carried a beat-up bugle that he had found in a nearby landfill.

"I don't know of a single black kid growing up who had any interest in music who didn't want to be in FAMU's Marching 100," said Maxwell, who wrote in a 2010 column for the St. Petersburg Times that the success of the band and its leader inspired him during the Jim Crow-era Florida of the 1950s.

The band's reputation for an innovative style incorporating popular music and elaborate dance formations into its routines earned it a following and near-celebrity status on campus. And as students who graduated from the university went on to lead other bands, their reputation gained a wider reach.

"We were able to build this network of other important institutions based on this one successful institution," Patrick said. "Black people are really proud of our bands. We're proud of the difference of style and the flavor and the flair and the flamboyance."

Worries about a wider impact

After a game in Orlando on November 19, members of the Marching 100 returned to their hotel, where drum major Robert Champion "reportedly threw up in the parking lot and started complaining of not being able to breathe," the sheriff's office said. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said this week that hazing was involved, but added that authorities were trying to determine an official cause of death.

Word spread rapidly through student and alumni networks at historically black college and universities, where marching bands are among the most prestigious institutions.

"It's one of those things, when the bad news hits one, all of the schools feel it. Of course, it magnifies everything about the black schools," said Maxwell, who attended Wiley College and Bethune-Cookman University. "We all cringe when it happens to one."

Patrick, the Marching 100 alum, said he was devastated by the news.

"It's incredibly tragic. It's a huge loss, and it's felt by all alumni of FAMU, not just people who were in the band," he said. "The band is the most beloved institution associated with the school, period."

Walker, who runs the website dedicated to black college marching bands, said she was worried programs at other schools would be put "under the microscope" by the hazing allegations.

"It just puts a big black eye over all black college bands. I think maybe presidents will be holding band staff more accountable for what goes on. I think that this will impact recruiting. ... It also might impact the amount of money and budget that are set aside for these programs," she said. "It's at the highest profile school, so I think it will make everybody look and see what their programs are doing."

Misael Garzon, 23, said he was shocked when he heard the news about a program many view as "immortal."

"I was just obviously praying for the family, praying for the (Marching) 100, even though we're rivals," said Garzon, who played saxophone in South Carolina State University's band. "Hazing is an issue that has to be stopped in many areas of college. But still, I had friends who marched for the (Marching) 100. It's just that family bond. It saddens me to see a great program have to go through this."

'It becomes a passion inside you'

Walker described the hazing allegations at FAMU as an "anomaly" among bands at black colleges.

"There are thousands of students that go through these programs that have a very pleasurable experience," said Walker, whose parents met while playing in the band at North Carolina A&T. "I remember seeing bands (when I was) 5 years old, growing up and saying, 'I can't wait until I get to march in a band like that.' ... You see it, and then it makes you want to be a musician, to be a part of something bigger than yourself, part of something good."

Garzon said the power and intensity of the bands from FAMU and Bethune-Cookman mesmerized him when he watched them square off at the Florida Classic in Orlando.

"You fall in love with it and you grow with it," he said. "It becomes a passion inside you."

Jimmy Hernandez, 27, said he was "head over heels" when he first heard Bethune-Cookman's band play in 2001. He played oboe and piccolo at the university - an experience he said gave him a work ethic and discipline that helped him do well in school and establish a successful career.

"I consider it the best decision I've made in my life," he said.

But parents of students considering joining bands at historically black colleges and universities may be hesitant in light of the allegations at FAMU, he said.

Parents should take the time to talk with band directors about their concerns, Hernandez said, rather than steering their children away from organizations that could help them achieve success.

But Maxwell said universities must do more to respond to hazing problems.

"If I were a parent right now of a kid who wanted to go to school for the purpose of being in one of those bands, I would think twice," Maxwell said.

Anyone connected with hazing at FAMU must be held accountable and face punishment, he said.

"Some good may come out of it," he said. "It may teach other schools to stop it."

soundoff (595 Responses)
  1. SGT Mac

    As a graduate of an HBCU and a member of the band throughout my college time and a Music Major, I have to say that hazing does happen. George, for you to even question why this article is all about "Black" colege bands is nothing short of ingnorance. You must have no idea on why HBCU's were even created. An HBCU band is completely differnt from you traditional Corp Style bands like you see at like Florida State. I was hazed just being a freshman who didnt know anything. No physical harm was done. Each HBCU band is a NON HAZING ORGANIZATION!!!! it says it in the letter from the begining. The band director did his job in preventing hazing in his face. But FAMU's band is more than 500+ people. he cant watch everybody outside of band. As an adult you have the right to say NO! I dont haze my soldiers at all. Corrective training is one thing, but physical abuse is not permitted. Until you expereince being in an HBCU band and understand what we have to deal with everyday, you cant say anything at all. It is not about race we have had a few white people join the band and they were treated the same way as we all did.

    November 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cleareye

      The existence of hazing is an admission of inferiority. Can you imagine the New York Philharmonic "hazing" a new member? How about the Joint Chiefs of Staff? It's not even justifiable in elementary school. Prisons? Maybe.

      November 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • SGT Mac

        I agree. I'm not saying that its ok. i was stating that it happens and people dont step up and say NO. We can try to stop it but it will continue. We can stop it at the schools but after practice is over, how can we stop what goes on in their rooms on and off campus? As a member of a fraternity we got hazed not forcefully but as adults it was our own decision to continue to go through with it. My prayer goes out to Mr. Campion's family and to the band directo Dr. Julian White. He didnt deserve to get fired. The having the president stop all functions in the music department, that would hurt many music majors who graduate next month. Why? One of the biggest performances for a major is their senior recital. So having him stop all performances, that will stop the senior reciatl and that student will not graduate. This thing is hurting students who were not even in the band program but happens to be a music major. I hope this is resolved soon. God willing no one else will get hurt or worse.

        November 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mm

    Hazing exists in the military as well and there are strick rules in place in an attempt to prevent it from happening. Unfortunately, it will always exists.
    ....USMC GySgt

    November 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. H W Ray

    Having pledged two frats I understand hazing. But no one was ever hazed in my college band or choir in the 4 years I was there. Never even thought of it. Performing organizations have enough to deal with. I don't understand this mindset at all.

    November 28, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. halai11

    It is sad that A life has been lost. One that placed his goal, based on his parents comments, on becoming a FAMU drum major. How far would one go to become what one aspires? How far? Endure countless and numerous hours practicing? Man-up to ridicule and hazing? Yet, the question that needs to be asked is 'what was Mr. Champion's health history?' Was his passing (with condolences to his family) mostly attributed to it?

    November 28, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bubba

    Drive through any campus and see all the boys wearing flip-flops in the cold; they are being hazed. But, if it's voluntary, it's not REALLY hazing. Get used to it; they haze each other and kill the weak ones when they can. Didn't you read LORD OF THE FLIES in school?

    November 28, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. vee

    Stop! Stop! Stoped ! This problem can be stop by one person, the Band Director. But what did he say " Oh I had several meeting about this hazing stuff with the band and I told them". So now Band Director you expect us to believe that FAMU can perfect mind blowing precision moves and play so loud that you can here them thru three states, now they don't listen when you say stop hazing and you ( Band Director) are in charge and been for a long time. When you are the leader you must lead. There's a Dad out there who won't see his son anymore. It"s not about FAMU or other HBCU bands, it"s about Band Director who love ones trusted there most prize possession. Somebody must pay and it's not the kids.

    November 28, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • mm

      VEE, how is it that you expect anyone in authority to prevent it? Do you think they make it known that hazing is going on or do it in front of authority figures? As a USMC GySgt, I can tell you my guys aren't doing this crap in front of my face and seldom if ever does the guy being hazed report it.

      November 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. George

    Here's a question – if everyone in this country preaches about equality and how everyone should be treated the same, why are there special colleges and marching bands just for one particular group of people? If there was a white college you better believe people would be screaming racism. This entire article focuses on BLACK marching bands and their culture. How about just marching bands in general, why bring race into it?

    November 28, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Fanye

      You're joking, right? Read up on the history of HBCUs.

      November 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. X Jam

    Hazing is just not in HBCU's!!! There are different levels of hazing mental etc......... we were never just hit on jus because and it never got out of hand and no one ever got hurt. we ALWAYS HAD A CHOICE TO LET THEM TOUCH US OR NOT!!!!!

    November 28, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Monica

    He was an adult and his parents probably "didn't feel the need" to make decisions for him. I am the mother of a BCU band member. When my child called me and told me she had been hit in the back of the head, I got up out of my bed, drove to Daytona, put my PhD in my pocket and acted like a straight MONEKEY!! (MOANKEE). I was not having it. My child is on a music scholarship and I could have cared less about her losing it. The person that hit her was immediately suspended and I sued him personally for her hospital bill.

    I am sure that this happens in all HBCU programs. It takes a parent with a LOUD mouth to put an end to the next child being hurt. I am glad to hear that the Champions are filing a lawsuit. If it were up to me, the entiore band program would be suspended for a year!!

    Mad Band Parent!!

    November 28, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. NorCalMojo

    This story doesn't add up. Hazing deaths are alcohol related. This guy was beaten to death.

    November 28, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. Monica

    He was an adult and his parents probably "didn't feel the need" to make decisions for him. I am the mother of a BCU band member. When my child called me and told me she had been hit in the back of the head, I got up out of my bed, drove to the school, put my PhD in my pocket and acted like a straight MONEKEY!! (MOANKEE). I was not having it. My child is on a music scholarship and I could have cared less about her losing it. The person that hit her was immediately suspended and I sued him personally for her hospital bill.

    I am sure that this happens in all HBCU programs. It takes a parent with a LOUD mouth to put an end to the next child being hurt. I am glad to hear that the Champions are filing a lawsuit. If it were up to me, the entire band program would be suspended for a year!!

    Mad Band Parent!!

    November 28, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. budwhite451

    had to google it but conensus seems to be " crossing the c bus" some warped ritual of being beaten from one end of the bus to the other to induce respect which to me should be homicide

    November 28, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • L. Nino

      @ budwhite451 Bus "C", indeed. I marched for that band for four years and I have seen a TON of things many would frown upon. What's worse? Fellow members (past & present.. some.. not all) are really making an effort on certain social media sites to have other members & friends "keep quiet and just pray". Ummm no. There is no need for ANYONE to be silent in the event of a death! In the words of a friend "Silence is not the appropriate response to crime".

      November 28, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. mm

    How is hazing different from corporal punishment? Explain it to me! These kids and adults who practice hazing in school are the first ones to call 911 on someone who is whipping them as a kid. Abuse is abuse no matter what you call it.

    November 28, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. mm

    Was this article supposed to be about the hazing and death of a student or about some frig-g-ing marching band? How disgusting to try and take the focus off the real story. There is plenty of space on CNN to promote bands. There are friends and family mourning the loss of this kid and all the article could do is to talk about marching bands. Shameful!

    November 28, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. Carroll

    Shame on you Catherine E. Shoichet for writing such a biased article.
    Where is the outrage for Robert Champion?

    November 28, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Tasha

      Really disappointed that no one is looking at every angle of this situation. If hazing was involved or any type of ritual was taking place. This would be an action of consenting adults, who all parties including the deceased possibly planned out and carried out. I'm sure even the deceased if he was able to answer would indeed take full responsibility for participating in a unsanctioned event. If something happened that fault should be placed let it be on those who chose to participate and let them face the law and their maker for their actions. Unfortunately Robert is paying for whatever choice he made to involve himself in that activity. Marching in the band did not kill him, this was his 7th year in the band, the directors who work actively against hazing and any other illegal act did not kill him, what killed him is a poor decision, he was not a child and alot older than most college students, so as an adult we have to nake responsible choices. This is a tragedy and I do not think any of the parties involved went in thinking that a man would die. I am not condoning the actions of those who participated at all. I feel like everyone should open their mind and realize he was not kidnapped or made to anything, he was a leader in this band and respected, he made a poor choice to participate in this tragic event. May he RIP in peace and he would want the truth, because he loved that band and would never want this.

      November 28, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  16. SMHFarrar

    When ever you participate in an African American Band, you are subject to be hazed. We were paddled for making mistakes on the field and during a show. And that was in High School. We ran laps in 100 degree weather. It taught you perfection and gave you the task of taking pride in your "show". I was over 40 flag girls and those without heart...quit! He knew that he would be hazed...section leaders will tell you that from the beginning. In order to teach, you have to have your own show down pack. Majorettes, Drum Majors, Color guards, drumline and band members.... we knew the deal when we took the field.

    November 28, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Mr.Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig

      And did you ever expect to be killed during your hazings?

      November 28, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Tuppencecat

      There are other ways of teaching perfection. Students know that if they aren't up to the standards of what is required, that they will be out. Paddling a student is a ridiculous tradition that needs to end.

      November 28, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • T. Gamble

      No matter what you sign up for, it should never be you signing you own death certificate. Those students that you say "didn't have heart" apparently they had a brain cause them walking out could be what saved their life

      November 29, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  17. poorguy

    The whole article was about glorifying and defending the bands; maybe one sentence about the guy's death. Didn't we learn anything from Penn St. about sweeping things under the rug?

    November 28, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Tasha

      Did you learn anything from Penn State? Do you know anything about the band or are you reading in the media. No one hid any type of hazing, people have been thrown out, put in jail, expelled from school, all by the administrators and leaders. They called the police, put on workshops, made students take classes against hazing. Trust this is no Penn State, no one condones hazing. College students are grown ups including the deceased (may he rest in peace), who was older than most and they knew the dangers and knew that it was against school regulations. Hazing has been against school regulation since before it became a law. Adults have to be held accountable for their actions when they choose to go agianst the rules. No one swept anything under the rug.... just like in life their are people who kill, molest, rob, and steal even when there are laws against it. Think again before you reference Penn State, because it won't work on this one!

      November 28, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
      • poorguy

        My comment was regarding the article, and glorification of the bands, and almost no mention of the actual death. I stand by that. I have thought again, as you suggested, and I still refernce Penn State. Listen to yourself, you're saying the guy "knew the dangers", implying that he never should have joined the band, and that it's his fault he got killed. Get over your worship of these minstrels and face reality.

        November 28, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
      • Woodrow

        It is akin to Penn State (though not the same act) in that it was abuse that was known to the powers that be and corrective actions were not taken.

        I don't understand how some of the comments justify being hit when errors were made. I am glad police don't have the same mentality..........................but when they do, it is a major issue, i.e. Rodney King (who didn't deserve to be beaten either.)

        November 28, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  18. Gaddffly

    Has hazing been prooved? I was in a marching band 4 years and can say those uniforms are HEAVY. They are sturdy cloth covered with tons of metal thread, buttons and decorations. A halftime show of playing, marching, running, dancing, etc. all over the field can be brutal on a hot day. It is quite possible he got overheated and died from heatstroke.

    November 28, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      What are you smoking? Of course it was hazing that killed him. Don't be ignorant.

      November 28, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • T. Gamble

      Im sure if that was the issue it would have been posted by now.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  19. Tbone

    Really sad that some guy died doing something he loved. Hazings are dumb but kinda fun in a weird way. I guess they took it too far or something. Don't know the details. It's sad though.

    November 28, 2011 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  20. p.david

    at 26 he must have been a freshman

    November 28, 2011 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
  21. Dan B

    Just a short statement. I feel for the kid and family but Sarah had a point. If he played football or any other sport would he be allowed to start and stop school and still play when he was 26. Just asking.

    November 27, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Courtey

    SOMEONE'S CHILD DIED! THEY WILL NEVER SEE, HEAR HIS LAUGHTER, HIS BEAUTIFUL SMILE NOTHING AGAIN, I CAN'T IMAGINE NOT SEEING MY CHILD AGAIN WHEN HE ONLY WENT TO SCHOOL NOT THE ARMY WHERE SON'S ARE DYING. COLLEGE ONE HE LOVED AND CHARISHED. WE NEED TO STOP WRITING NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND START PRAYING NATIONALLY FOR THIS FAMILY. WE DON'T SEEM TO GET IT I DO I SENT CHILDREN TO COLLEGE THAT CAME HOME AND GRADUATED. THINK OF MR. CHAMPIONS FAMILY AND WHATEVER HAPPENED HE IS DEAD AND SOMEONE HAS TO PAY. PUT YOURSELF IN THAT FAMILIES PLACE. LET'S PRAY PLEASE.

    November 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      I guess that's what you get for attending a "HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGE." RACIST!! Why'd they fight so hard for desegregation in the 60's only to SEGREGATE themselves??

      November 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • cleareye1

        And there are many "historically white colleges." Plus, there is no such thing as "white America."

        November 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • Joe

        So now Amy now that you've shown your true colors, here's a couple of questions for you.
        1. Are you one of the Billionaire that want pay more in taxes because you think you can buy your way to Heaven?
        2. How can you say that Black American segregated themselves when the standards for White prestiegous Universites are so high its a joke to say that they're filling a quote status allow some African Americans or for that matter non-white students the graces of stepping foot on their campus and if they can't cut the standards they wind up not able to meet their standards to stay in schoo.
        3. If the Nation can see that things would be a lot different to bring all schools and programs to a level that could compete with the White Universities we could keep our own Athletes that's bringing you more money for your schools thats keep ours down?
        4. This is the biggest question if CNN can see that you're only bringing up with these comments how there's still Racism in America, maybe you can delete this blog in respect for the family of one of our fallen Bandsman can pass on in Peace......

        November 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • harrisjb

        Amy are you really that ignorant about the history of Black colleges and why they exist?

        November 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kishma

        Amy,

        You're clearly not the brightest crayon in the box. FAMU, along with just about every other historiocally black schools are over 100 years old and were FOUNDED because black people couldn't go to white schools. Fighting for desegregation in the SIXTIES has nothing to do with schools that were founded hundreds of years ago to provide an education for minorities when it was impossible otherwise.

        November 27, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      Pray you learn how to spell cherish and that using all caps is rude and makes you look dumb.

      November 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tbone

      Let's not pray. Tragic yes but you have no clue what happened.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Tasha

      Repeat what you said, he loved this school. He loved it so much if he was alive he would tell his side of the story. God bless his parents because this is nothing any parent, including myself would ever want to do; bury a child. But whatever the story is, he was 26 years old no made him do anything, that is a fact you can count on. There has been no cause of death stated, try waiting on the facts.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  23. Courtey

    SOMEONE'S CHILD HAS DIED! NOTHING CAN BRING THIS MOTHER AND FATHER BACK THEIR CHILD. HAZING IS NOT THE ANSWER HE WAS KILLED DOING SOMETHING HE LOVED. THAT SCARES ME THAT WE CAN HAVE SO MANY NEGATIVE, INSENSITIVE COMMENTS. I CAN'T IMAGINE SOMEONE CALLING ME TO TELL ME MY CHILD WAS KILLED BY THE HANDS OF HIS FELLOW BAND MEMBERS. COME ON PEOPLE NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.THIS FAMILY NEEDS OUR PRAYERS ACROSS THE NATION.

    November 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Sarah

    He's 26 years old and can't stand up for himself and refuse to be hazed?! Why is a 26 year old in a college band to begin with?

    November 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • crystal

      according to the band director who spoke at the young man's memorial at the university, chamption had financial difficulties, whichwould necessitate him working and sometimes having to drop out of school, and then return. this was done throughout his academic career. so obviouly, the leaving and returning over a period of time affected his impending graduation. he was determined to get is degree, no matter the obstacles. he was his name: a "champion." (i know you did not ask for all this but what can i say?)

      November 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
      • Venusismom

        Thanks Crystal, your right we all can't graduate on time,a lot of us keep going until we can. I was 51 when I graduated from TSU this past May. It was hard, but the key is to keep going.
        This dear young man has been denied his chance to finish. I Pray for his mother and the rest of his family. The truth will come out.

        November 27, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnfrichardson

      Wow, such compassion, Sarah.

      November 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kams

      Sarah, since when did music have an age limit? When doing something you love, especially when using your talent, at what age do you stop?

      When wanting to be accepted and having a sense of belonging to something, you'll endure things that others might find odd.

      November 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Courtey

      Sarah does his age really mattter? I knew a 70 year old woman that went to college was she to old to fulfill what she may not have had the opportunity to do early in life? You're very insensitive. Do you have children? How old are you? I'm an educator that teches imy students that it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get it the just do it. I thank God that he was a young ambitious black man that was trying to make it. I'm a late bloomer for many reason but thank God the colleges don't discriminate because of age. Glad you got yours at the right age. Whatever age that may be.

      November 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dolomite

      Sarah you are all heart!
      The truth of the matter is; HBC are emulating another cultures to become a "Greek."
      Go to College and be GDI or non Greek Frat and use your time to better youself and others. People like Sarah could certainly use the help. Sarah....Why is a 26 yaer old going to college? Is that what ask Sarah? REALLY thats it??

      November 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • KatrinaNation, Chalmette

      Seriously Sarah, so glib over a human life, and the issues surrounding what happened here, of which we have no answers yet? How shallow of you as you sit there living and breathing while this boy, this young man, is not. Perhaps as all who long to be "included" they accept hazing because they want to "pass the test". Many years ago it used to be silliness, where you were made to dress funny, or wear a leash or have to be a "servant" or a day of public embarrassment done in fun. It has long been discouraged now as people no longer have the self discipline of self control and their actions have accelerated into deeds of violence and pain. In answer to your sad observation, wait out the facts but nobody said he was gang maulted and we just do not know if there was even an issue of self defense involved but I'm sure NOBODY intended for this young man to die as a result.

      November 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • harrisjb

      Didn't realize there was an age limit on going to college and being a member of the band.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • ruralvoice

      Frequently after the U.S. is involved in wars students use GI benefits to start college so older students are not out of the norm, especially in the coming decade. This was very pronounced after WWII and the Korean wars. However, I do agree that a 26 year old should know how to say "no" to hazing.

      November 28, 2011 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Eastender

      Wow, Sarah - maybe we're not all so lucky to be able to breeze through college without working or financial assistance. Take a look around you – many graduates are in their 30's and 40's. And, yes, many are members of a marching band. Here's a dollar – go buy a clue.

      November 28, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
    • mswhyte

      Your lack of exposure really stands out in your statement.

      Not everyone goes straight to college from high school. Until the draft was ended, there were young men and women who served in the Armed Forces and when their time was completed, they entered into higher education. Some people just do not follow the traditional path of high school graduation straight into college.

      I am completing my undergraduate degreee after 38 years of putting it on hold. I am 58 years old. I am following the example one of my great aunts set when she enrolled into college at 50 and earned her Bachelors degree.

      It is also obvious that you do not know about the culture of hazing. It occurs in many organizations and it can be done in fun or it can turn vicious and in some cases deadly. The outcome depends on the individuals who are engaged in the activity. From the information that has been released, it appears that a member of the FAMU band had a sadistic streak in their actions. That streak is probably not confined to just hazing within an organization. You automatically assumed that the victim did not put a resistance. How do you know that he did not put up a resistance?

      And above all else, you come across as a very uncompassionate individual. A family is grieving for the loss of one of their members because of this incident. They are going through a painful moment in their lives that will not be concluded when this young man is laid to rest. They still have to endure the pain of learning what happened and who is responsible. That seems to be far more important to me than your notions that are expressed in this statement.

      November 28, 2011 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Peaceupatowndwn

      I said the same thing and you were about to be head drum major next year why are u still being hazed like that sad story inded

      RIP Robert Champion

      November 28, 2011 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Inquiring Minds...

      It's such a tragedy that the parents lost a child, and now they're threatening to sue. The real question is why was he still able to participate with the band at 26 yrs, the parents need to be questioned as to why they would allow their son to still participate with a band where there are fresh out of high school 17/18 yrs-old babies. Also, he made a choice, I'm pretty sure no one made him at 26 yrs-old do anything, especially since he was a Drum Major-the highest position in the band.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
      • Monica

        He was an adult and his parents probably "didn't feel the need" to make decisions for him. I am the mother of a BCU band member. When my child called me and told me she had been hit in the back of the head, I got up out of my bed, drove to Daytona, put my PhD in my pocket and acted like a straight MONEKEY!! (MOANKEE). I was not having it. My child is on a music scholarship and I could have cared less about her losing it. The person that hit her was immediately suspended and I sued him personally for her hospital bill.

        I am sure that this happens in all HBCU programs. It takes a parent with a LOUD mouth to put an end to the next child being hurt. I am glad to hear that the Champions are filing a lawsuit. If it were up to me, the entiore band program would be suspended for a year!!

        Mad Band Parent!!

        November 28, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      I agree with the other people who said you are insensitive. You are incredibly insensitive. Apparently you aren't aware that colleges don't have age limits. So what if he was 26 years old and in college. In case you forgot the whole point of the article, SOMEONE DIED!!! Do you think it's funny or amusing?!! If you do, YOU'RE beyond insensitive, you are inhumane. Not everyone can go to college right after graduating from high school and complete a four-year degree by age 22. The only thing I am curious about is how he died. If he was hazed, what was he made to do? If he died of heatstroke, this should serve as a warning to other bands. Stop with the stupid and dangerous hazing and take care of your fellow bandmates.

      November 28, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
      • George

        Actually, I don't think she was being insensitive at all – simply asking a question. Why is a 26 year old allowed to participate in a school activity alongside 17 & 18 year olds? Would he be allowed to play college football at that age or are there limits? High schools have age limits so this is a legitimate question.

        November 28, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  25. UW Badgers!

    thoughts and prayers to Mr Champions family and friends, a horrible loss. Decades ago when the UW Badgers were in the bottom of the Big 10 the band director started "The Fifth Quarter" it was the only way to keep the fans in the stadium for the entire game. Marching bands have a huge impact and are an integral part of college sports. So sad to hear of the possible hazing!

    God Speed Robert Champion! !!

    November 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Dan

    Been a musician and a for marching band member all my life. Can't understand the need for hazing. These bands are so difficult to get into in the first place that anyone who gets in dosen't deserve to be hazed. They've been through so mush to qualify that they've proven themselves without the need for silly, stupid, and unnecessary hazing. GROW UP YOU JERKS !!!!

    November 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  27. tigerdxc

    Ignorance is bliss my friend.....

    November 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Lee

    Not all college bands participate in hazing activities. Please don't hold this against all marching bands. People don't worry about their kids pledging to fraternities, which are notorious for hazing.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Clarice Snell

    At this point, no one really knows why Mr. Champion passed. Speculation is dangerous. If hazing is the cause of death, all involved should be held accountable! Wait on the autopsy. Until an official cause of death is announced – shut up!

    November 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      A 26 year old MAN should have nutted up and said NO. If it was hazing, then that's his stupidity. Didn't he ever learn to "Just Say No?"

      November 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  30. The Final Word

    You would think the article would at least report on the young man's death instead of eulogizing the band. Maybe that was another article, but I would have been interested in knowing more about how the young man died, etc. Isn't that the personal side of the story, the part that makes it newsworthy?

    November 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnfrichardson

      I agree! It seems like people are mourning the band more than the guy who died.

      November 27, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      If he was beaten on the bus than it was battery and/or manslaughter or worse...hazing is not what happened here.

      November 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  31. abtime

    Hazing, exists on all campuses that have students. Killing young people under the guise of "hazing" must be treated like any other murder. All culprits get charged, tried and sentenced accordingly. No exceptions.

    November 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  32. bigbobowski

    i read this, but i just dont get it, i went to h.s. college and the military. what is hazing? why would u put up with it? is this a "mac n cheeze" thing? i'm no badass but when i was 26 no one would have f'd with me like that

    November 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • HP3

      Exactly what do you mean is it a "mac and cheez" thing? Is that some veiled reference to the ignorant remarks made by a republican presidential candidate regarding "mac and cheez" being a "Black Thing?" Geesh...for someone who claims to be educated and in the military (as am I) I would expect better in replying to posts on CNN. The fact of the matter is that "hazing" exists in/ on every college campus that has or houses a Greek letter organization...moreover, it absolutely exists in the military as well...only "re-purposed as training....the only thig I can appreciate from your post is the notion that it must stop....and the take away from your post is racism should equally be purged as well.

      November 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  33. James O'Brien

    My daughter is just starting to get into a band and this worries me. but what worries me more the article reflects a culture of just showing off the good and not also the bad. everyone wants to be in these bands but we forget that people should go to college to get and education not be in a band. and if this has happened once its happened before and how widespread is it. our society has lost the vision that life should be cherished. and as one great mexican president once said. el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz. in other words we got respect each other.

    November 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  34. rexedie

    humans seem to have a problem with evolvement..... the masses are still hanging from the trees.... there is no such thing as higher education.... if there was....we'd all be doing better... government... financial... religious. ... selfishness and ignorance are still the biggest items going....

    November 27, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  35. gspirit

    Order of How I Would Want This Handled If Happened To My Loved One:
    1. Full Criminal Investigation
    2. Autopsy Report
    3. Hold Not Only Band Director But Students, Chancellor, Athletic Director & All Others Who Should Be Accountable held Accountable
    4. Victim's Family Should Initiate a Lawsuit
    5. Previous Band Members Who Endured Abuse Should Press Charges
    6.New Band Policies Should Be Established & "Responsibly" Monitored
    7. Scholarships Should Be Revoked From Anyone Who Participated In Hazing, Especially Those Who Contributed To The Death Of FAMU Drum Major

    November 27, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • victor

      AWESOME! you are absolutely right!

      November 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • SGT Kevin m. Robinson

      To gspirit, Bands have ALL of their students sign letters at the beginning at each band season telling them and outling what will happen to them if they violate the rules. They are put out of the band lose their scholarships and/or reported to the University officials such as the SGA for further review depending upon the action the severity of the action.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  36. Kimba

    First of all, if he was beaten, why isn't this a murder charge. It can still be considered hazing. Secondly, why is a 26 year old a drum major in a band? At that age, I was already working in my profession for 4 years. It doesn't make sense to me.

    November 27, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Cre Rouge

      I think once they validate the cause, it will be manslaughter or 2nd degree. Being 26 in college is no big deal these days with so many starting college at an older age.

      November 27, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Jackie

      What did you major in, stupidity? Those who can go through college in 4 years with no interruptions are lucky and less in the majority. I graduated from high school in 1985, got my associates in 1992. Life happened and so did a break from school. Older adults in college is not a surprise.

      November 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jennifer

        I went back to school in my 40s but wasn't even close to the oldest in class. One of my classmates graduated at the age of 79 with children, grandchildren and a great-grandchild at commencement. There isn't an age limit on learning or education. You stop learning when you are dead.

        November 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Choose Advocacy

      Dear Kimba, this amazing young man dropped out of college twice due to financial hardship. However, to his credit, he never gave up his dream of higher education. Hope that answers your question. It's never too late to finish.

      November 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • c porter

      I began going to college in my thirties, and will be getting my BA at the ripe age of 36. I am not alone in the number of people who go to college later in life.

      November 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ms.Jones561

      If you read of other articles dear and knew of his struggle...it was stated that he has struggled financially being in school, and had to sit out semesters at a time. Don't compare where you were at 26 to where he was. Be a lil more sensitive to what is going on and see that change that is well overdue on not only famu's campus but on other campuses! Being a student at Famu this is not the 1st time hazing has happened, the staff has swept so much under the rug to display the "image" of a great HBCU and now it's about to be exposed! Almost every organization on famu's campus hazes!! From the band all the way down to the Famu concert choir(modeling troupes, dancing groups, frats, sor, and who knows maybe some so-called christian organizations... Hazing takes place not only physically but mentally, and emotionally. Trust I know! I pray that all who took part just confess and all who seen what happen just speak! There are so many things that happen inside the Famu marching band that makes them so discipline...you wouldn't believe the horrible things that happen if I told you!

      November 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • Leanne

        Then why don't you be alittle more sensitive & step up to effect the change that needs to come about by telling the police what you know?

        November 27, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Courtey

      Again what does age have to do with it? Great you were in your profession by 26. Some of us are/were not as lucky. Consider yourself blessed to be living past 26 because Mr. Champion want.

      November 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Prof. Norman

      I teach college students and admire those who have the will and desire to return to school. The non-traditional student is now the tradition. I work hard to ensure that they feel connected to the school and make an effort to push them toward completion. They also are much better students the '2nd or 3rd' time around as they are now motivated to succeed.

      I think what Kimba was trying to imply was not that Mr. Champion was too old to be in school, but rather if he had stopped out of school a few times, would he still be eligible to hold high rank in the band? You typically see traditional students in sports and in the band.

      Just saying.....

      November 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  37. james woodard

    i am a famu graduate. i know and respect both dr. ammons and dr. white. dr. ammons was it wise for you to have fired dr. white. wouldn't he be better able than his replacement to address hazing. if he i replaced by an outsider, that person would lack sufficient cultural knowledge to gaarner the cooperation and suport of the musical faculty and band members. if dr. white is replaced by one of his staff, that person would or should feel loyalty to dr. white and will have been placed in a difficult position especially since, as attorney chuck hobbs is arguing, dr. white is a tenured distinguished professor of music who probably can not be terminated from the latter position. 'go rattlers."

    November 27, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • waycist

      I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you weren't an English major.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • abtime

      Instead of making a plea(regardless your major) for retaining an adult who was complicit in the death of a young man, who by the way will never be a "graduate" of FAMU as you, you should be calling for the firing of every person with prior knowledge and association with the cause of his death. This would include Dr. White. As President of FAMU he was aware of the band's practices. His making the band Director the scapegoat for this is typical and unacceptable. White should lose his job because of this murder. That's what you call killing someone.

      November 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • abtime

        Dr. Ammons , the President, should be fired in addition to the band Director.

        November 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • waycist

      Judging by your post you should explore career opportunities as a writer for CNN.

      November 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  38. bbkingz

    where'd they out that conductor's baton?

    November 27, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  39. humanrace

    one more thing.....VERY IMPORTANT.... Im really really dissapointed in my florida gators...... 4 interceptions ...and 3 went for touchdowns..... how is this possible

    November 27, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  40. Tammy D

    Hazing is at al schools, not just black. Trust me i've had enough white college roommates come home after being hazed to know at one of the bigigest colleges in the US, so listen its a national problem

    November 27, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • bbkingz

      yes tami, to some extent you are correct, but it is much more intense at black schools and with black fraternities.
      CAN U DIGIT SISTA?

      November 27, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      I agree – there is just as much if not more hazing with fraternities/sororities, both black and white. I don't understand the scrutiny of the bands when the Greek system is so much worse – and involve many more students that the marching band does.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
      • abtime

        There has to be more "scrutiny" here because a person DIED.

        November 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  41. ToonPirate

    Yadda-yadda blah blah blah... Yes, a young man is dead because of hazing. Will we remember him always? NO! Because it will be business as usual in about 4 to 6 weeks. This kid will be buried and forgotten about by the general public.

    ALRIGHT, FOLKS, MOVE ALONG. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

    OOOOOH, is that Kim Kardashian over there??? DIBS ON THE INTERVIEW!!!

    See what I mean?

    November 27, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  42. FauxNews

    FAMU should be shut down immediately, and a new government department should be established to monitor hazing at all schools.

    November 27, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      What are you people not understanding. Doesn't the word alleged mean anything to you? This is so typical. You people are always so quick to blame someone else. Next thing you know, someone will say a group of white guys are responsible. And if they weren't white than they were hired buy the white man.

      November 27, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
      • Wiener

        Dan, do you think perhaps that fauxnews was attempting facetiousness?

        November 27, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
      • Lean6

        ...and I suppose you think that you are...well-adjusted, Dan. Take a Valium. I swear, lunatics have to be the most well-informed bunch on the planet. News comment sections are full of them!

        November 27, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • bbkingz

      TRUE DAT

      November 27, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  43. Robert

    There is no excuse for hazing, PERIOD.

    November 27, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  44. 2 Innocent

    I had no idea this kind of thing happens in marching bands. Beyond the belief that hazing is wrong why would someone with all that talent and promise risk an injury that could easily end the same? This is very very sad.

    November 27, 2011 at 6:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Darryl Schmitz

      I was a member of a major university marching band 30 years ago, and freshmen were the the butt of mild hazing (instrument-cleaning duty, forcedparticipation in degrading "skits" during a bus trip, and topped off by a somewhat embarrassing "midnight march" through campus) but I had wrongly assumed that negative publicity surrounding severe fraternity and military hazings over the years had thankfully put an end to it all. Guess I was wrong.

      November 27, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
      • Angela F.

        As band members, we have all had the "freshman" experience. Pick up the trash on the field, horn duty, come early to line the practice field, stay after practice to clean the guard closet.... all "harnless" things that are based in teaching responsibilty and loyalty to the program. These things should not be considered hazing, since it is the same " crap runs downhill" mentality found in workplaces. The person with the most senority has the person with the least senority do the gruntwork. HOWEVER, physical violence should never be tolerated. There are plenty of non hazardous ways to "initiate" someone in the program that will not risk their life. We, as band memebers, are expected to do better than this. We are the intelligent ones, not some drunken frat that commits mindless acts because it is their "tradition". As for being 26 and the drum major, any one in the marching band community knows that it is the senoir personel that are granted this priveledge. So what he's 26. Be glad he was getting a college education.

        November 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Cherie

    hazing happens- it is wrong- in high schools-in colleges- in sports and sad to say in marching bands. the only thing that is different is the degree of hazing Hazing and bulling both need to be STOPPED Music is such a great belief that something like hazing should never be a part of it.

    November 27, 2011 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  46. kwileks81

    I was a member of FAMU's Marching 100 back in 1981, and one of the first members to rebel against the hazing practice during my freshman year. I was told that I was going to be "taken over" whether I wanted it or not. My family in Jacksonville was aware of what was going on. My family members even told one drum major in particular that if he touched me or threatened me again that there would be problems. I ended up shooting at the upperclassmen one night after they attempted to beat me and my roomate with pipes and sticks. My roomate actually stabbed one of the upper classmen who attacked him. We were both punished. The next year I was accused and set up, and suspended from the band for hazing, something that I had always been against ever since I was in High School. Yes there was hazing at my high school, and guess where the band director graduated from , if you want the truth ask some body that has been there. I left FAMU in 1982 after a year and a half of school, even though I loved the "100", I realized that I would never be accepted, and to this day members that were in the band with me will not acknowledge me , however they are dare not disrespect me. My prayers go out to the Champion Family, and it is a shame that death is the only way that a problem is brought to light

    November 27, 2011 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • J.I.

      Good for you kwileks! It's one thing to be subservient during a rite of passage into an organization, but to accept beatings that could do permanent harm, NO! I am a member of one of the "Divine 9" organizations, and went through a process over 20 yeas ago in the late 80's. While my line brothers and I did take some stuff, whenever we thought that we were in danger or could have real serious harm done to us, we either fought back, or we used our feet and made like track stars. It's called "pledging with your head an not your hindparts." We made it through, and I have been an active/dues paying member of my organization ever since. Unfortunately, kids back then and these days don't stand up for themselves the way you and I did, and think they have to almost go to the hospital to get respect....Shoooooot. I think not!

      November 27, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Wiener

      That's the spirit. If someone does something to you that you don't like, shoot the SOB!!!! Do you have relatives in Flint, MI?

      November 27, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      Thank you for sharing an important story.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      LOL inspirational story lol? Give me a break sounds like typical stuff from people that go to schools like that, pull a gun and shoot at people and stab them. Why not call the cops? Why not do anything other than respond with violence. Sounds like you like to give out pain but not receive it.

      You are trash just like the rest of that school.

      November 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • abtime

        Violence?, call the cops?, a Black school?, Black men?,obviously you know nothing about the relationship of the police and Black people in America, as it relates to violence. There was only "shooting at," had the cops been involved, there would have been shooting and certain death of everyone, most likely. Instead of name calling and looking and sounding like a fool, educate yourself.

        November 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • kwileks81

        Mike you do not know me. No it is not an inspirational story at all. Back then there were no phones in the dorms, no cops patrolling, or anything like that. These guys came to my room kicked the door in and tried to go straight thug. You do not know me, Mike, so your reply was not even needed. However since you do not know me I will choose to ignore you and your comment about trash and being trash. I will never trash FAMU, for a lot of great things have come out of the university. I will also have you know as a veteran of the US Armed Forces, which I have been a member of ever since I was 17 years old (Army Reserves, US Army, USAF, and Air Guard) I do not consider anyone to be trash. Now Mike if you would like to discuss this in person instead of hiding behind a screen name, you are more than welcome to come to "The Hill" and call everyone trash to their face if you are man enough, until then, a line from last years Florida Classic Show..."SHUT UP!"

        November 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • Courtey

        Really Mike? You would think that way TRASH FAMU ok is Penn TRASH too? We are black and no one comes to our rescue quickly.

        November 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      I despise bullying or hazing, what ever you want to call it. I am old now, but I carry protection. I have a lot of rage at those kinds of people. Don't mess with me, go pick on someone else your own size! To Champion's family, I am so sorry for your loss and the responsible people should be brought to swift justice.

      November 27, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Tehutotongue

    First, I send condolences to the young man's family–tragically a young promising life was lost. However, his article is a complete joke. All I read here was a bunch of insinuation and no explanation. A young Black man in a marching band started throwing up, complained of chest pains, and later died in a hospital. Where did the so-called hazing and Black-on-Black violence come in? Is this supposed to be journalism? Furthermore, why would such an inept story be headlined on the CNN site? Oh, I see: CNN is trying to stir the racial pot again to keep people's minds off of more pressing, universal issues. Pathetic. You may have some of these folks fooled, but I see through your nonsense. STOP IT.

    November 27, 2011 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
  48. Howard in Alexandria, VA

    The police SAID it was the result of hazing. But I haven't seen anything to corroborate that statement. Police tend to jump to conclusions, and that's when personal prejudices can influence what is said. Your average cop has more than a few personal prejudices when it comes to the actions of "college kids."

    November 27, 2011 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
  49. dino1

    hazing will never be stopped in bands or frats–book it.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Mindki

      That's what they said about slavery among other things. People will learn and they can change.

      November 27, 2011 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  50. Greg

    We need to lift this family in prayer today. This is a time when this young man should be with his family celebrating Thanksgiving, yet his family is burying him. In 1981-82, I considered attending FAMU. Dr. Foster was Director of Bands then but I must say, one of my greatest fears was the hazing that was so very prevalent back then. This incident sickens me! For God sake, we send our children to school to get educated, not to get beat to death by some thuggish fool in the band who is probably flunking out anyway. FAMU NEEDS WAKE UP AND REALIZE THAT IT HAS A PROBLEM. Unfortunately Dr. White had to be fired but I applaud the president in his swift actions, albeit a bit too late. I also think that band members need to get a grip and dismissed the ‘Stop Snitching champagne” and tell the police what you know. Honor your Drum major by ensuring that those who are responsible for his death are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • DYBO

      The president should also step down.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  51. Allan byrd

    I attended NC A & T. I saw the FAMU band when was about 9 at A & T. The performance of both bands drove my decision to attend A & T. It has served me well as I got a great education. My niece received her master degree from FAMU and was Miss FAMU a few hearts ago. The bands are good advertising for the schools. I am sadden by the death of the young man. But keep the bands.

    November 27, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  52. Elj

    As a former member of the Marching '100, I express my sincere and deepest sympathy to the family of Robert Champion. Here was a young man who pursued excellence, and was committed to continuing the excellence of the band. The Marching '100 is not and was not built on hazing. It was built on the things this young sought out. We must accept responsibility because we tolerated hazing and it now threatens to overshadow the remarkable legacy of left by generations. By the way, I am deeply honored that I marched along side the first Caucasian member of the Marching '100 in 1973. It has long since been more that a "Black" college marching band.

    November 27, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • ronmccbop

      Are you speaking of E. Seagraves? 1973 was my freshman year in the "Marching 100". I will never forget that bus ride from the hotel to the Orange Bowl. I recall Dr. Foster and many other staff members simply look the other way as we (the freshman) endured the worst physical abuse imaginable. I am surprised no one has died sooner. HBCU marching bands and Greek Organizations have taken on the role of our plantation oppressors. The Willie Lynch Doctrine has never been more effective. Too bad someone had to die before this garnered national attention.

      It is my understanding that Mr. Champion (although an upperclassman) was under going some kind of ritual in order to be accepted as a member to ride on "Bus C." Apparently, the ritual involved him having to walk from the back to the front of the bus while being attacked by his fellow band members. This is insane! The question I have for the band staff is, why wasn't there a staff member or security on the bus during this period? Surely the staff is aware of the times that are ripe for such hazing activities to take place. If I'm Dr. White, I'm always staying three steps ahead of any possible hazing opportunities. Given the hazing culture of the HBCU Marching Bands, one should have taken every option off the table for those who might haze. From the moment you leave the campus until you return, you as director (professor) are 100% responsible for the students parents have entrusted you to protect. I know Dr. White to be an honorable man. We both came to FAMU the same year. I consider him a friend and mentor. However, one thing I have learned as a professor and someone who has served as chair of my music department, the buck stops with whom ever is in charge. If something of this nature happened on your watch, then you are responsible. I'd go a step further and put Dr. Ammons on notice as well. Clearly, not enough was done to prevent this horrific act from occurring. Sadly, Mr. Champion's demise should serve as a shot across the bow for all HBCU Marching Bands to wake up and stop this plantation behavior that does little to build team excellence. The question I ask is how many more young promising lives will be lost before we absolutely crack down on this dirty little secret (which is now no longer a secret)?

      My sincere condolences to the Champion family. May you all find peace.

      November 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Dave

    As a former FAMU student I want to send my condolences to FAM and the Marching 100. Love.

    November 27, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  54. Timothy

    FAMU students please stop coming on to the message boards defending the beating of this young man or the actions of the band members on the bus. You are watering down the integrity and intellect of the school with this nonsense. If this is the way you feel then please leave my school. There is no place for you any more.

    November 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Ann

    I do not understand why black schools have to beat on fellow classmates.
    On one hand we accept the beating from our fellow brother or sister and on the other hand we complain out the beatings during slavery.... Does not make sense to me.

    November 26, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kams

      It is unfair to say "I do not understand why black schools have to beat on fellow classmates." That is assuming that only black schools beat on their classmates. Not to make this a race issue, but your comment leads me to think that YOU think it is. Hazing has no race...there is hazing EVERYWHERE. Elementary, Middle, and High school, Colleges and Universities, and even the Military!

      November 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Davido

    I did a quick search and found the word "black" mentioned 15 times in this article. Why is race even an issue here? Yes, it's a HBCU, but hazing takes place at every school no matter what the predominant race attending is. I'm not blaming CNN here, except for maybe allowing such a racist article to be posted, but the author of this article needs to take some time to reconsider her motivations in writing any future articles. I would love to see her write an article about the possibility of Cain replacing Obama and the consequences of the US having two black presidents in a row and the torrent of hazing that would be established among the White House staff. Because according to her, the only reason hazing takes place at the FAMU band is because of the color of the band members' skin.
    For the record I'm mostly caucasian. When I played in my high school band, I was hazed by the black members, hispanic members, and believe it or not, the white ones too. It was done because I was a freshman. Not because of the color of my skin, and definitely not because of the color of the hazers' skin.
    Also, I agree with the previous poster on the issue of this having possibly having happened at another college with a predominantly white population. If that were the case, I guarantee that the word white (in reference to race) would never come up in any article.
    This is a sad situation, and action needs to be taken if it's found that hazing was part of the cause of death. But hazing will never stop. In most cases, it's all in good fun. In a lot of cases it obviously goes too far. But people need to focus on the real issues here. Whatever they are, I know that race is absolutely not one of them!

    November 26, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brooke

      Davido- I cannot agree with you more! Yes, hazing is a problem in many college organizations (bands, greek life, etc.) regardless of race. No need to bring attention to the fact that this is a black marching band 15 times in one article! Big pet peeve of mine.

      November 27, 2011 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
      • Matt

        The reason that it is so important to note the that this is a "black" marching band is because of the greater problem of black on black crime. While hazing can be dealt with pretty uniformly throughout campuses across the United States, crime perpetuated against one's own race is a problem of greater significance in the black community. Although there are many outside influences preventing young black men and women from high achievement, one of the greatest problems is found within the black community itself. This drum major, with the potential to be a success, has become yet another victim to a community that doesn't understand how to rally behind its greatest resource.

        November 27, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
    • TS21

      I agree that it was annoying reading "black" constantly through the article and would also like to say that when it comes to racism, I have encountered far more racist black and hispanic people than white

      It is 2011 people, slavery ended, segregation ended, get OVER IT ALREADY!

      November 27, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
      • ISmartaThanU

        Interesting...the person who says gets over race, is obviously not of color, coming to a marching band story to specifically comment on color and give his views of race...including who he thinks happens to be more "racist."

        Nice way to out yourself.

        November 27, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • TommieFremont

      I think it is relevant because at HBCUs as opposed to traditionally white schools, the bands are on the same level if not a higher level than the sports teams. Also, when I hear black band I think of a particular style of marching: high stepping, dancing and much flashier than the military style marching done by other schools. For that reason the administration has probably turned a blind eye to the problem. Much like administrators at Penn State turned a blind eye to the problem with the football team.

      Somebody has died. It is time for the practice to stop.

      November 27, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  57. Carrie

    Hazing in university bands is very common....much like in fraternities.

    November 26, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  58. sam

    What was the hazing? I'm confused......

    November 26, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Twiddle

      sam he was allegedly beaten on the bus I believe.

      November 27, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
      • PM1

        If Robert was beaten and then died as a result of the beating...that is murder...not hazing. By labelling it "Hazing" we risk deminishing the severity of the action to a school time prank. This is serious business. All those who laid a hand on him should be prosecuted and held accountable. I was "initiated" at university. We didn't beat each other and no one was ever injured. This was not "Hazing". This was a deliberate attempt to injure and should be dealt with accordingly. My thoughts are with the family of the deceased and the accused.

        November 27, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • mswhyte

      Hazing is a rite of passage in many organizations. Existing members of the group come up with a series of things for new members to do that supposedly determines whether or not they really want to belong to that organization. It is supposed to be fun and a test of one's endurance for nonsense. But there is also the ugly side of hazing. Some organizations have promoted the use of physical aggression as a part of their rituals. There have been reports of individuals being injured or killed by someone or a group of folks who took things too far.

      November 28, 2011 at 4:20 am | Report abuse |
      • SGT Kevin M. Robinson

        mswhyte, Hazing is NOT a rite of passage. Cause it is something that I NEVER or the Armed Forces EVER have done to its soldiers. The Band system is a Military like environment which which is explained to the parents when their child comes to a COLLEGE level band. No one is going to BABY their child. Hold their hand, etc. In the Army or other any other Armed Service..Drill Sergeants are in your face to play mind games. But now SOME kids in bands call home and say they got "Yelled at" and call it hazing. At the beginning of Band Camp you have PT or Physical Training where you are required to do push-ups, sits, run the track, etc. Even for infraction during band camp like being late for practice. These new kids have seen the Movie Drum line too much and try to get away with things and call simple stuff HAZING. That is one issue that SOME parents TRY to say is HAZING but it is NOT. Aerobic Conditioning. Then band still maintain Military discipline. Yet some of their children are LATE for practice, etc. Asked to due push-ups. Then some as I said before. Well get mad when they are asked to do push-ups in front of the Band cause they got embarrassed. Yet this is done in the Army, Navy, Air Force in Marines ALL the TIME. When in formations, unless given the order rest you are not suppose to move or talk. But NO physical acts should NEVER be done to any person child. Bands haze ALL of their students to sign letters. If they are caught doing physical acts their are kicked out of the band, lose their scholarship and reported to the Student Government Association, Dean of Students and the other chains of command that follow for punishment.

        November 28, 2011 at 7:06 am | Report abuse |
      • SMHFarrar

        @ Sgt. Robinson... Obviously, you have never been in an African American Band. Of course no one will baby your child nor did anyone ask anybody to join the band. It's a choice. Everybody has a right to say no. Just like we were paddled at school by counselors, were paddled in the band for errors. If you WANT to be in that band...You will have to put up with the discipline. And as for "Drumline"....they had nothing on the rigor of our band... You are a "crab" until you perfect your game. Thus, you will be hit. That's what made the band an art.

        November 28, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
      • Tuppencecat

        @SMHFarrar. The bands need to be prepared for all the fallout then of tolerating hazing. Parents do not pay tuition for their children to be hazed. Everybody has the right to say no, and everybody has the right to expect that she or he will not be hazed or assaulted. Hitting creates art? Shame on you.

        November 28, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  59. Bimmerman

    Too bad their academic standards are not as seriously taken as their bandsmanship.
    I think you know what I mean.

    November 26, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • J.I.

      No not really. I don't know what you mean, Because FAMU has a very good academic reputation, actually. I know many FAMU graduates who have gone on to do great things. Own their own businesses, become top-flight engineers, journalists, executives etc. etc. Try again...

      November 26, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  60. L Hill

    Sad............

    November 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Steve

    Why is this such huge news? A couple kids die every year from hazing, more die from other means...is it because the kid was black and that makes it somehow more tragic? How many kids die from drugs, alcohol, car crashes etc etc? All tragic..no different then some idiotic hazing. If he didnt want to do it, he should have had the guts to walk away. Now hes dead. Dumb people die young.

    November 26, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • martini

      You're proof that that isn't true.

      November 26, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Rob

    "Hazing was involved". That's it? Quite an in depth expose.

    November 26, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Becky King

      I just don't understand – they returned from a game and he started vomiting? When did the hazing allegedly occur? Is an autopsy been done? Maybe there was some other issue. Typically, to my understanding, hazing takes place among new members. The drum major is an earned/senior position – not usually a new member (nevermind that he was 26.) Something just doesn't make sense. I really hope there is more of an investigation taking place.
      My prayers go out to his family and friends for their great loss.

      November 27, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  63. Feyheart

    Awful writing. Sad story.

    November 26, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Joe

    Speaking on behalf of the true Drumline Legacy and I'm an Alumni Bandsman of one of the HBCU schools, If you haven't particiapated in any form of muscial performances you miss the point of what the HBCU Bands do which is imulate what our stars like EWF, Temptations and others from MOTOWN and other record companies have done since the begining of performances on the stage, and that is to put dance with your music to put on a show.

    The problem is only about the equality of our educational system of how the HBCU schools competting for funding not only at the college level , but also at the K2-K12 levels.

    You rather see our students struggle to suceed in education and on the streets and then want to compliain about how they act in public. Well look in your own back yard now. And what CNN has also reported recently in the news around sports as well as music that affects your communitee as well. So when you upgrade the level of decency and equality in all schools for all races, then the negativity of things that happens even in your schools will end.

    The educators are doing all they can with what they have to use to make things safe and abide by University laws and regulations. It's the culture of a few destroying the image of the many.....

    November 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  65. DB

    It's unfortunate that this person died however, shouldn't any 26 year old man be mature enough to handle "hazing". 26 years old should be considered old enough to be responsible for one's own actions.

    November 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ES

      What a stupid response! Someone clearly DID something to him while during the hazing to KILL him. That's like saying, "Shouldn't a 26 year old be mature enough not be murdered by someone?" AGE DOESN'T PREVENT PEOPLE FROM KILLING YOU

      November 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Rick

    Why would your patriotism die because of something CNN or any other news media outlet did? Don't pin your hopes to the behavior of corporations.

    November 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Lou50

    "Walker, who runs the website dedicated to black college marching bands, said she was worried programs at other schools would be put "under the microscope" by the hazing allegations."

    Ms Walker needs to be replaced. Why would any other school have to worry about the "microscope" since they should be in compliance, this is the 21st century. Why would a person in any position not want to discover any other "exceptions".

    November 26, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rattler1997

      This article is horribly written and racially-biased.

      Walker is an awful source for an article and makes little to no sense. CNN please stop getting personal quotes from past band members or in Walker's case, people who are not affiliated with the Marching 100. A young man has loss his life, we don't need any more articles about what the HBCU marching means to individuals and/or black people in general. Blacks are not a giant monolith, so please stop with the "Black marching bands, this and black marching bands are loved by black people that... Let's focus on the future and move forward to address a culture of hazing that needs to be eliminated.

      November 26, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Check

      Walker runs her own site so who would replace her and why - because you do not agree with her opinion. You also seem clueless as to how schools operate. When some tragedy strikes any school it is an almost instant reflex for that school's peers to ask , "Could it happen here?" It happens with incidents at fraternities .It happens with lab and shop accidents. There are no ill long term consequences to the program for examining policies, but the consequences for willful ignorance could destroy a program.

      November 26, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Moose100

    SMDH..Don't understand why people get all up in arms for focusing on HBCU's when we are in the "Black in America" blog...so dishonest..

    November 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moose100

      Ok maybe the blog says "In America" but it's clearly a followup to the show.

      November 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Kim M.

    I meant "misogynist". I just think this writer's treatment of this story and her writing examples what's wrong with some of the articles posted by CNN. You can't teach sensitivity. You can't teach diversity. CNN should allow more diversity not just in its hiring, but also in assignments. I would LOVE to read more articles on minority issues to be written BY minorities. Just as much as I love reading articles on women's issues written by women who have an obvious female perspective.

    November 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Chicago Nick

    "Walker, who runs the website dedicated to black college marching bands, said she was worried programs at other schools would be put "under the microscope" by the hazing allegations."

    That fact was repeated twice in the article, once in the third paragraph and that example above in the 21st near the end. Not very good writing for CNN?

    November 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Damien Tobin

      Sometimes articles are written, then added to when new information is made available, and you get a hiccup. It happens.

      November 26, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Occupado

    This kid had a family and a mother. My heart goes out to them.

    November 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  72. DarthRandall

    Hopefully it puts organizations that call themselves "marching bands" yet spend most of their productions with their instruments down on the ground while they dance under scrutiny. When they DO play, it sounds like total garbage. It's not as entertaining as they have always been led to believe. Outside their own little academic bubble, everyone else is making fun of them. The movie "Drumline" was pure fantasy...dance bands are less cool than previously thought.

    November 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Green

      drumcorp dude, look it up

      November 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Ken

    Does CNN's favorite race-baiting pontificator LZ Granderson know that his employer is singling out black only college marching bands as having a hazing problem? Why is it only the black marching bands? Not all black marching bands are like that, yet they "generalize" as though they are. This is obviously racist.

    November 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flatsguide

      I guess they only write about colleges that kill band members. I really don't think they are picking on black colleges. They should fire the band leader and the dean, just like at Penn State. All they did was molest kids, they didn't kill anyone. They should also charge every person involved in the hazing/death with masslaughter and wrongfull death. Kinda sounds like you are being a little racist.

      November 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Howard

    Ok, first off, a young man has died. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

    Next: what the hell was that article even about?? How can I read through an entire CNN article and not even understand the basics of what should be a standard news story–who, how, what, when, why, etc...

    November 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • S

      You are so right about this article. You read the whole long article and you are left still wondering about the basic details of the whole incident.

      November 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelli

      My thoughts exactly.

      November 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • DB

        Exactly. This article was strange in my opinion. (and...the guy was practically 30)

        November 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  75. SpecOpsMike

    Misael Garzon, 23, said; "Hazing is an issue that has to be stopped in many areas of college." Are you kidding me? The word, young man, is "all" areas of college.

    November 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Pretty sure he meant that hazing exists in many areas and it needs to be stopped.

      November 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  76. borntothebreed7

    "The band's innovative reputation for incorporating popular music..."

    How can the band have an "innovative reputation"? Do you perhaps mean they had a reputation for innovativeness? A reputation for innovatively incorporating popular music?

    Catherine Shoichet writes with all the style and knowledge of a high school dropout. This is not a ninth-grade book report, honey. Perhaps you should leave the writing jobs to the professionals.

    November 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Dave

    CNN is a joke. the good news is that even the obtuse among us that swallowed CNN's biased "news" for years are beginning to see the light. and i agree that they will go to any length to ensure that Obama retains his throne.

    November 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  78. sag coopersmith

    Ah, I long for the days of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. The new stories back then weren't told with code or hints. If they didn't have the full story they didn't report it unti they did. Those were the good old days.

    November 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  79. American Citizen

    Sorry.
    This is a story about how some are attempting to inflict their culture into a generations-long innocuous and important activity that is rich in tradition and brings warm memories for many families.

    How dare you insult our good memories with this offensive article.

    This incident is isolated.

    Do not discourage good kids from joining their local bands at high school.
    That is precisely what these that acted out want to happen.

    Sorry – but this bad behavior and culture has infected many realms in life in the United States.

    I say – hands off.

    If you cannot act in society with respect for others and are unable to conduct yourself with decency in a group – get out.

    Do not make it difficult for all.

    Do not rob young Americans of this time-honored extra-curricular activity and very positive developmental social group.

    November 26, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • hope4now

      The real deal is that kids have to have a good moral core and parents are dishing this up any more. Parents wants schools, and teachers and school presidents to raise their kids. Hazing is wrong on multiple levels and this young man got caught up in the group instead of sticking with his music. Parents need to teach their children to love others rather than to hurt them and to have a conscience. This isn't about culture. This about social norms and moral and values that are no longer being targeted. It is so much easier to shift the blame from those who did the hazing to band directors, teachers, and schools.

      November 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margaret

      Unfortunately when there is a gang mentality it makes it easier to accept violent behavior. One student who wants to harass others probably won't get far, he will run up against someone who is bigger or stronger than he is. It is when the group decide that this is acceptable behavior, it is a lot easier to go along when a large group of people are agreeing. Another problem is the we always do it this way culture. Then there is the seniors hazing the junior grades. There needs to be more oversight. Every one expects the seniors to be adults by that time. We need to make sure all schools, no matter what level, understand that hazing is violence, it is a for of terrorism, and it is by no means funny. Too many young people have died.

      November 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  80. MARIE

    Excuse me? Where is it written that one has to go to college in their twenties. At the age of 40 I went back to get my degree. Glad I did.

    November 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  81. john

    I thought I saw you in that group

    November 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  82. nadine

    It is high time to get rid of all this nonsense (most especially marching bands and cheer leaders) that is not related to the only purpose of any university which is educating our youth.

    November 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • American Citizen

      Sorry.
      This is a story about how some are attempting to inflict their culture into a generations-long innocuous and important activity that is rich in tradition and brings warm memories for many families.

      How dare you insult our good memories with this offensive article.

      This incident is isolated.

      Do not discourage good kids from joining their local bands at high school.
      That is precisely what these that acted out want to happen.

      Sorry – but this bad behavior and culture has infected many realms in life in the United States.

      I say – hands off.

      If you cannot act in society with respect for others and are unable to conduct yourself with decency in a group – get out.

      Do not make it difficult for all.

      Do not rob young Americans of this time-honored extra-curricular activity and very positive developmental social group.

      November 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      Youve obviously never been in a band or loved someone that is musically talented. My ex was in the West Virginia University marching band and helped me appreciate the band and how hard they work. The regular members in a marching band practice extremely hard and the drum majors practic even harder. I'm still confounded by what an ignorant statement you just made.

      November 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Why would you say that (especially about bands)? Its traditional in HBCU colleges to have the marching bands. Most of the times people are actually there for the bands any ways instead of the game. So instead of generalizing HBCU's( if you know what this is), get to know a lil about the history.

      November 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • letsgomets2012!!

      nadine: all work and no play, etc.

      You have to do something more in college than just go to classes and study. You need a diversion that's fun to take the edge off.

      November 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      You obviously don't know much about education. Research supports the positive effect of extracurricular activities. I'm an engineer and the most valuable course I ever took was college marching band. In 19 years of formal education, it was the only course that taught me to work with the person next to me, whether I liked them or not.

      My university's marching band is the greatest example of continuous improvement in an organization I have ever seen (and I work for a company routinely held up as a shining example of how great CI is.) Every day we tried to do better. Every week we tried to do better. And every year the band gets better.

      If we're going to eliminate every activity that has lead to unfortunate consequences due to the inappropriate behavior of a few miscreants, then our schools will be empty. The dipsticks that caused this young man's death are the type of nimrods who would have made gun powder in chemistry or hacked into your bank account in computer science class.

      November 26, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  83. cleareye1

    You actually succeed at degrading your race, your religion, your country, your family, and yourself, all in one comment. I salute you!

    November 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  84. James Brown

    Why do Black Colleges need to go on notice for this. if this happen at Duke would we say White Colleges put on notice for this type of behavior... come on

    November 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Bob

      Duke? Seriously, James! Do you really want to bring up a racial issue with Duke, or are you less than 15 years old?

      November 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Check

      II think you are missing the cultural aspect that is trying to be made. Students at historically black colleges are more likely to emulate the social structures of their leading peer college than of a non-peer, students at the other schools will often come from the same milieu, and the leaders of other schools' programs are drawn from the the top peer, FAMU. This cultural tightness can be compared to the lacrosse world as exemplified by the shock after the murder of UVA student Yeardley Love.

      November 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  85. 1742Hawk

    My neighbors son was interested in attending a FAMU. They parents looked at the English,Math and Science curriculum and discovered it was 5th and 6th grade content level. They opted for U of Florida.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelvin

      That is just untrue. And you knowit!

      November 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chris

        Wow so many ignorant comments being made. I can't imagine a world without music and bands, it would not be a place worth living in.

        November 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Lorelord

    Yeah there are white trailer parks with as many welfare reveiving, criminal infested, classless, tastless, ignorant white people in them too. I do agree with you in that for a media and a political view point that says, " Dont judge me by my color", they are usually (The media, CNN, MSNBC, NY Times..etc..) the first ones to bring it up. We have things in place to put them in the forefront based on their race alone...(affirmitive action, black history month, BET, colleges....) you name it, its out there. Yet this is a deliberate and overtly accepted hipocray, I agree. But not all Black people are as you describe and not all of them want all that other stuff. They didnt really ask for it, basically the government and special interest groups shoved it in our faces.

    Its just like Latinos. The media tries to portray them ALL as pro-illegal immigration when in fact, over 60% of our immigration enforcement in comprised of Latinos...the Border Patrol, more than that. My wofe is Mexican and she hates the thought of amnesty...I mean she is offended by it. Also, all these new immigration laws being pushed by arizona...do know the percentage of Latinos that voted for all that stuff? Why the population is over 40% alone, and many of them voted for those new laws.

    Its not the people bro. Its the state controlled media and our government led by special interest groups and socialist, communist rulers in our governemnt that use racial discourse to divide and conquer us. They use racial and class warfare and people eat it up. The ture ignorant people in this society are the ones that buy that garbage. They are slaves to their own predjudices and hatred..and most those are the very ones that yell "racism: everytime someone says or does something thay dont like. We give power to that stuff by our reactions to the word. Someone accuses someone of it because they have no counter argument and the other person runs for the hills.

    Your discontent and resentment is misplaced my friend. Wake up. The government has you where they want you. So does the media.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Da g

    There are no "historically white colleges" and there are no "white marching bands". The historical need for such colleges as this ended decades ago. It never works to try to have it both ways. FAMU should be incorporated into FSU for example. They are in the same town.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Ian

    "A few black people that hold jobs and abide by the law???" wow. That is so ignorant and offensive on so many levels.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Moose100

    Why are people turning this into a race issue. HBCUs have white people going to them it's not like they "screen out" people of other races. Hell I marched with people in the band this very article is about...

    November 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Northlander

      People are turning this into a race issue because the article is written that way. This article is not about a guy dying as a result of hazing, it's an article that uses a tragic death as an excuse to write about marching bands at Historically Black Colleges.

      November 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Moose100

        Smh it's too many people in this country that cringe when ANYTHING brushes race or color in this country. All this article is doing is pointing out a well known problem in the culture of HBCU's. It's not like the author made this up today. Seriously these complaints amount to nothing more than "why are you talking about race get over it"

        November 26, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • Moose100

        Secondly it's a huge leap to ASSUME that he only cares about HBCU's and anything else. Hazing IS a problem everywhere but that is not what this article is about.

        November 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Ron

    You are semi-literate and a racist. Go crawl back under your rock.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Christine Maguire

    How exactly are they pandering? If you are going to say something that offensive at least have a viable argument. Or are you one of those people who show alot of bravado behind a screen but actually have nothing to say...

    November 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  92. Berta G

    Someone asked why he was in college at the age of 26. Ball State U had a football player in his mid 30's,he went to the military and then college. Every college has some older people who go to college for one reason or another.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  93. N.S.

    My heart & prayers go out to this young man's family & friends & to FAMU's Marching 100. It is extremely unfortunate that it took the awful event of this young man losing his life for FAMU's band staff & the school's administration to come to the realization of how dangerous hazing is. The band should be suspended & the band director & staff should be held responsible.

    Speaking as an African American who attended both an HBCU(Alabama State, crabbed but I quit the Mighty Marching Hornets) & a predominantly white university (Mississippi State, 5 yrs in the Famous Maroon Band), I can say that hazing is a problem on both types of campuses in nearly each type of student organization. However, due to this tragic incident, more attention is being drawn to HBCUs. It would be the exact same if it were the University of FL or Miami. The issue of hazing in band needs to be acknowledged, addressed & removed.

    This article, though very poorly written, has now brought this issue to light. As previously stated above, hazing is NOT an 'anamoly' in black band culture. It is as common as the instruments themselves. I can honestly say, my "crabbing" experiences at AL State turned my away from band so I quit. However, I transferred to MSU. And there, I regained my love of music & band.

    Everyone is trying to turn this into a race issue...it's not! The issue is not about how many white kids go to HBCUs nor is it about how many black kids go to predominantly white schools. It's not even about hazing being an issue at HBCUs moreso than predominantly white schools. The underlying issue is HAZING does exist in college bands & more rules & regulations & sanctions need to be stringently enforced!!!

    November 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • High IQ'er

      Stop your ranting. It is YOU who are turning this into a "race issue."

      November 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      No, I think he's right – the article is poorly written and definitely implies that race is an issue because they keep referring to black marching bands. And posters are talking about it. This man is saying it is NOT about race, but about hazing, which is hardly discussed in this article. Hazing is all too common in clubs, sports, fraternities and social groups in college, and has nothing to do with color, but everything to do with twisted beliefs in rites of passage or it's a way for bullies to pick on the people they don't like, don't want, or simply want control over. Hazing is a cowardly, extremely juvenlie behavior and has no place in college.

      November 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
      • Moose100

        While I see why people are taking umbrage to the focus at HBCUs is IS a huge problem at those schools.

        November 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • N.S.

        @Katie, ty for seeing the point I was making. Hazing itself is wrong & needs to be removed from every organization on every college campus.

        -NaKenya

        November 26, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  94. ackvt

    Marching bands in high school and in college are some of the worst hazers. Also black fraternities are the worst hazers of all fraternities. I've known several people in all of the above and what they went through was far worse than any hazing I got in my fraternity, which was not exclusive to one skin color or background.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Bryan

    The cause of death has yet to be determined, therefore the hazing in question has yet to be disclosed.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Justsayin'

    For those asking "what happened", the young man was subject to a line of fists, meaning, he was made to walk the line of fists and was beaten to death.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  97. John America

    Bl ack in America? Bl ack America Week? Are you kidding me? Can you imagine if another network ran almost non-stop specials on White America? And the promised land for whites? Liberals are racists and don't even hide it anymore. The entire premise of joining a group by race and celebrating it went out with pointed white hoods. I'm beginning to believe what my grandfather used to preach and that was it was all a lie from the beginning and nothing more than a struggle for power. There was no real discrimination. Whites have been used by the same media.

    November 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tiger2

      I was trying to give your comments the benefit of the doubt until you made that final foolish statement. You should move to Iran and work for their government since they believe that the holocaust didn't happen. Wake up and join the 21st centruy.

      November 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  98. Charles

    Hard article to understand while reading. Was it written by a third grader? Sorry for the loss. I wish the article was clearer. As a white guy,I love watching black bands. To much talent. I applaud them all.

    November 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Terrible tragedy, but a very poorly written article. No clear account of how hazing possibly resulted in the drum major's sickness.

      November 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  99. mc

    Hazing is as American as apple pie. The military does it. Companies do it. High school football teams do it. Marching bands do it. Cheerleading squads do it. Fraternities and sororities do it. It has been going on since your great grand dad was pooping his pants. My father was hazed in his fraternity and in the Coast Guard. I was hazed in my fraternity. My sister was hazed for her junior swim team and her sorority. My other sister was hazed in her sorority.

    November 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • horsesmouth

      my great granddad was pooping his pants just 5 minutes ago...care to explain?

      November 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • CynicalAndy

      Did no one in your family–yourself including–ever have the moral decency to try stop all this hazing?

      November 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      Sorry about the humiliation you and your family had to endure but if you can't stand up and say "no way is anyone going to do that to me" then I guess you had it coming.
      By the way, I did all of that and never was hazed, ever, not even threatened.

      November 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  100. Danne

    What an example of horrible reporting. I read it twice and still have no idea what the reporter is talking about. He never described the hazing. Does anyone know how this kid died? And what in the word this reporter is talking about?
    I assume he was too lazy to find out. He just overheard someone say hazing was going on so wrote it down.
    Exactly what do reporters do now? It's become like internet. Just throw any ole thing down.

    November 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      i was thinking the same thing after reading that article.

      November 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Marcia

        I'm glad it wasn't just me who couldn't follow this article and couldn't quite figure out what hazing had to do with it. Either an editor got too carried away or the reporter didn't do a good job here. The article was more focused on black bands than the drum major's death which I THINK was the news here.

        Is it normal to have a 26-yr old be a drum major? Not relevant to the story, I am just wondering. I'd assumed the band members would be "college age" (i.e. early 20's at the most).

        November 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      The writer can't discribe the hazing, because it has yet to be determined if hazing played a role in his death. This age of social media and rush to judgement has really hurt the school....lets wait for the FACTS!

      November 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • jimbo

        If the reason for the death was still being investigated and could not yet be revealed, the article should have stated that fact in the first paragraph.

        November 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
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