Eastside High alumni call for returning the marching band to HBCU-style

Eastside High School
Eastside High School(ACPS)
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 1:12 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 11:13 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A group of Eastside High School alumni is calling on the school board to return the high school’s marching band to its roots, after they say they were denied by school administrators.

During Tuesday night’s School Board of Alachua County meeting, alumni expressed the importance of Eastside’s band, which was formed in the 1970′s.

A change.org petition calls for the band to incorporate the original “HBCU style” back into the program, which is currently using a corps style.

“I would like for you to return the soul back to Eastside High School band. The community enjoyed the east side during the 70′s, and during the 90′s,” said resident Alonso Young.

The petition argues the change would increase the number of youth of color who decide to join the program.

During the meeting, two of the Eastside High School Band drum majors came to the meeting to speak in support of the way the band program is run currently.

“I hear a lot of talk about the band being mostly I.B. kids, mostly white kids, and you know there are a lot of different kids in the band,” Drummajor Deshaun Johnson said. “We come from different backgrounds, different cultures and I think that is something that we should focus on more than the things that make us different.”

Board member Leanetta McNealy said she and the superintendent will work to set up a possible meeting or workshop to discuss a solution.

clarification: A previous version of this story said the group wished to bring back the "integrated program." The EHS marching band does not now, nor has it ever restricted membership based on race.

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