Members of Howard University's "Showtime" marching band protest a lack of promised scholarship disbursements in the D.C. university's administration building on Nov. 3. (Courtesy of Twitter via @HowardBands)
Members of Howard University's "Showtime" marching band protest a lack of promised scholarship disbursements in the D.C. university's administration building on Nov. 3. (Courtesy of Twitter via @HowardBands)

Members of Howard University’s “Showtime” marching band have drawn a line in the sand, protesting the University’s administration due to a lack of scholarship disbursements and other allocated band funds.

During an Oct. 31 home game against the Savannah State Tigers, band members wore black as a means of demonstration and solidarity instead of their traditional uniforms, playing to a nearly empty audience at Greene Memorial Stadium in Northwest.

A YouTube video of the band’s performance went viral, prompting the hashtag #SilentShowtime, which band members and their parents used to express their frustration.

“Every year, the band is suppose to receive funding for both our organization’s budget and student scholarships, as outlined by the contracts we signed long before the semester began,” said Terrell Tiendrebeogo, senior and spokesman for the “Silent Showtime” protest, Paul Holston for reported. “Not one single member has received any scholarship funds, and when reaching out to the administration we have yet to receive any viable information on this status.”

John E. Newson, Sr., director of University Bands since 1993, released a statement insisting that the band faculty did not participate in the protest.

“The actions that took place at Saturday’s game was that of the students and not by the directors,” Newson said.

The protest continued into last week, when sections of the band occupied the administration building on Howard’s campus with instruments and signs stating “No scholarships, no sound,” “We do not play for free” and “Silent Showtime.”

Shortly after, the university released a statement extending its sympathy for students who have gone without their promised scholarship money: “Howard University strongly supports the Showtime Marching Band and Concert Band and apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the recent delay of marching band scholarship applications. The Howard University Showtime Marching Band and Concert Band both have a rich legacy at the institution and university officials met with students to understand their concerns. The university will honor all scholarship commitments made to currently enrolled participants and is actively working to apply these awards as soon as possible.”

Tiendrebeogo championed the success of the campaign, posting Friday on his Twitter account: “Marching Band scholarships have now been posted! Thanks to everyone who has supported us! #SilentShowtime.”

He stressed that the protest is not to bash Howard, but is an act of solidarity to ensure longevity and stability for the band program.

One band member’s mother said that since the protest and action on social media, disbursements of scholarships have begun but all accounts haven’t been cleared yet, which Tiendrebeogo confirmed.

“Progress is being made and we appreciate the efforts of those who’ve shed light on the situation,” Tiendrebeogo said. “However, the fight isn’t over.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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