The news this week that the famed Marching 100 band from Florida A&M University has been suspended throughout the 2012-2013 academic year has completely thrown me for a loop. I admit that the band needed to be punished for its actions internally and externally. And that is exactly what has happened! Internally, the band has been suspended by President Ammons for the last six months following Robert Champion’s death. Externally, 13 band members have been criminally charged in the hazing death of the FAMU Drum Major.
We must have faith in the criminal justice system even though it is a reach for most of us who know that justice is not blind when it comes to black Americans. Lady Justice might be blind but someone has certainly placed weights on the scales that do not favor us. Herein lies the problem. Who exactly at FAMU is calling the shots? President Ammons must surely know that the FAMU football team is only partly the draw when it comes to our gridiron contests. I will state unequivocally that most of us that attend FAMU football games do so with the intent to see the Marching 100 perform.
While it may be true that FAMU is not known primarily as a halftime show; it is a university that on a year to year basis produces the highest number of baccalaureate degrees amongst African-American students. And this is where my problem with Ammons comes into play. I don’t understand who it is that is whispering into his ear that this is the appropriate course of action. The Marching 100 is an instrumental recruiting tool that must not be abandoned because someone outside of the FAMU community said that it must be that way. Are we going to run our institution or capitulate to those whose only agenda is not in the best interest of FAMU?
We must let the criminal justice system run its course and let them determine the guilt or innocence of those charged. From my understanding, the State has a really weak case and will try to consolidate those with fringe charges against those with more severe charges. That’s unfortunately how the system works. Those who are guilty will be judged as such. I have empathy for the Champion family but i also have empathy for the hundreds of members of the Marching 100 who had nothing to do with the crime. And I still maintain my belief that Mr. Champion knew what he was getting into when he walked voluntarily onto that bus.
What happened to him should have never happened. The punishment must fit the crime. And the punishment has already exceed the crime. As a friend has already stated that there was no punishment when FSU coaches coached a black man to his death at two a day practices in 100 hundred degree heat. I’d call that hazing…. But then again, I’ve already stated that the weights have been placed on the scale underneath Lady Justice’s blindfold.