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.