Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg battle of bands links King, Obama


The timing of this year's annual battle of the bands wasn't lost on spectators at Tropicana Field on Sunday night.

Just two days before the inauguration of the nation's first black president, marching bands from historically black colleges converged to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 24th annual MLK Jr. Drum Major for Justice Battle of the Bands and Drumline Extravaganza.

"The script couldn't have been written better," said emcee Sevell Brown.

This year's theme, "King to Obama, the Dreamer and the Dream," illustrates the connection between two very important black men in American history, said Brown, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Florida chapter.

Decked out in black and gold, the 180-member strong Mighty Hornets from Alabama State University got the show rolling with a musical skit that paid homage to Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama.

It also poked a little fun at the outgoing president.

The band purposely spelled Bush wrong, with an upside down U and H.

"That's because Bush messed up everything," said the band leader, eliciting laughter and cheers from the crowd.

About 10,000 people showed up to see 11 bands compete, including the Bethune-Cookman University Marching Wildcats and the South Carolina State University Marching 101 Band. The event serves as an unofficial kickoff for today's parade, traditionally one of the largest in the nation to honor the slain civil rights leader.

The battle of the bands is "the type of event that brings everyone together," said Boca Ciega High School sophomore Ackera Barnes, 16.

Kind of like King's message, Barnes said.

The significance of this year's MLK Jr. festivities is even more profound as Obama heads to the White House, said fellow Boca Ciega sophomore Doneisha Bowens.

"This is history," said Bowens, 15. "I would never have thought I'd live to see this day come."

Sporting an Obama cap, St. Petersburg resident Franklin Bryant reflected on the connection between King and Obama while the Yellow Jackets marching band from Howard Blake High School in Tampa took to the field.

"The dream of Martin Luther King has come full circle," he said.

Rita Farlow can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4162.

St. Petersburg battle of bands links King, Obama 01/18/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 19, 2009 3:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Working conditions, school choice, teacher housing and more


    WORK CONDITIONS: Two teachers at a Pinellas County middle school request transfers out, saying the campus has become "hostile and racially charged." The …

    Pinellas Park Middle School
  2. Forecast: Break out those sweaters, Tampa Bay, as cooler weather just a day away


    Tampa Bay residents will finally be able to break out their sweaters and boots this week, but not until enduring yet another humid, rainy day to start the workweek.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'


    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  4. Here's what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day


    LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.

    Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rey Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day "was the longest bus ride in my life." [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Cuban media treats visit by Tampa City Council as historic event


    TAMPA — Delegations of one kind or another have been traveling from Tampa to Cuba for years, even before President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between the two countries in December 2014.

    A Tampa delegation to Cuba this week was featured prominently in reports by the state-run media in Cuba, including Granma. From left are Tampa City Council vice chair Harry Cohen, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, Tampa philanthropist David Straz and Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin.