Champion's Honor

I read--and could have assumed as much--that there was a moment of silence before yesterday's Honda Battle of the Bands to honor Robert Champion, the FAMU drum major who lost his life to hazing in November.

This moment of silence was observed by thousands of HBCU band members and the tens of thousands that came to see them perform. To those band members: You should all be extremely proud of yourselves. You are part of a long and storied tradition of arguably the most popular piece of the marching arts spectrum: The HBCU marching band. You are but one step in a legacy whose power can be evidenced by the 60,000 who piled into the Georgia Dome to see you on that day. To the additional thousands of HBCU marching band alumni who were undoubtedly at the Honda, you should share in that pride.

But I hope sincerely that during that moment of silence, something else entered folks hearts and minds. To those who have ever swung a paddle, a fist, a foot or an instrument so that a fellow bandsman or woman could "get down", or stood idly by as a party to such offenses, you are sadly part of a much darker legacy. It is this legacy, this insidious institution of hazing, which claimed the life of Robert Champion.

Let's end hazing.