Howard University has announced that its Showtime Marching Band will escort alumna, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, during the Inauguration Day parade on Jan. 20, according to a release sent to Blavity.
The band will perform a special drum cadence for the parade and will feature its drumline, the Flashy Flag Squad and Ooh La La dancers, which is less than one-third of the full band, to honor COVID-19 safety precautions.
“We are proud to unite safely as a band to represent Howard University, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and all HBCUs across the country,” said Kelvin Washington, the Howard University band director, who has been working on the perfect song for the parade since Harris was selected to join President-elect Joe Biden on the presidential ticket in August 2020, according to the press release.
Band members have not been together since before the pandemic, according to Washington, but Courtney Gilliam of Dallas, Texas, a women studies graduate student and co-captain of the Flashy Flag Squad, said the band is ready.
“I think the amendments to this year’s inaugural events are appropriate for the times we are experiencing. I’ve been eager for months to see how Howard University would be included in this momentous inauguration, and it’s great to know that we’re able to safely execute traditional events and be represented as the marching band and musical heart of the vice president’s Alma Mater. As the first of many more progressive elections/inaugurations for women, it feels euphoric to be involved. I’m beyond elated to be able to participate with the Flashy Flag Squad, Ooh La La Dancers and percussion section,” Gilliam said.
“Our squad has been conditioning, learning tosses and practicing dances to band music since last summer at our respective homes," she continued. "So, finally hearing the heartbeat of the band, even in this small degree, is powerful for the entire band, and I’m sure the student body will be excited to see their peers help usher in our fellow Bison.”
Happy Founders’ Day, @akasorority1908! Today, as we celebrate 113 years of sisterhood and service, remember: no matter the distance, your sisters will always be there with the same love and support.
C3—Calm, Cool, and Collected pic.twitter.com/bnJPWxs7BT
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 15, 2021
She has often talked fondly of her experiences as a student at Howard University.
"When you're at an HBCU and especially one with the size and with the history of Howard University – and also in the context of also being in D.C., which was known forever as being 'Chocolate City' – it just becomes about you understanding that there is a whole world of people who are like you. It's not just about there are a few of us who may find each other," Harris told The Washington Post in 2019.
Inauguration Day security measures have reached unprecedented levels with more than 25,000 National Guard members having been called in, as Blavity previously reported. The National Guard members will all be vetted in accordance with the new security measures, per The Independent.
Blavity will be live-streaming Inauguration week activities on its website beginning at 8 p.m. Monday with United We Serve: A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service. Streaming will continue on Jan. 19 at 8 p.m. with the COVID Memorial Service and We Are One program. Inauguration Day streaming will include the parade, where you can see Harris among her beloved Alma Mater.