The famed Florida A&M University marching band the Marching 100 is back from a nearly two-year suspension following the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion. The band was suspended from performing, practicing or meeting for 19 months following Champions’ death on a band bus following the Florida Classic football game in Orlando.
“When considering all of the measures we have put in place, I believe this constitutes us having the right conditions,” FAMU interim President Larry Robinson said during a press conference Thursday morning, according to a Tallahassee.com story.
Champion’s death put a spotlight on a pervasive culture of hazing at FAMU and at other HBCUs. Champions’ death led to the retirement of longtime band director Julian White. FAMU’s new Director of Marching and Pep Bands, Dr. Sylvester Young was hired as the new director of bands in May. Young will decide when the band is ready for public performances.
Champions’ family has filed an on-going wrongful death lawsuit against the university. More than a dozen people were charged with manslaughter in connection with Champions’ death. Several suspects have plead no contest and agreed to testify against the remaining defendants. Champions’ death also lead to the resignation of then president James Ammons last year. Despite a variety of measures to curb hazing at FAMU, there were 20 allegations of hazing involving official student organizations, resulting in the suspensions of two organizations last fall, Tallahassee.com reported.