Howard University’s Marching Band Is Escorting Kamala Harris At The 59th Inauguration


January 19, 2021

They are showing up in style!

Howard University’s iconic Showtime Marching Band will be escorting alumna and Vice-President Elect, Kamala Harris, to the White House on Inauguration Day. The drumline joined with the Flashy Flag Squad and Ooh La La dancers, will perform a unique cadence for the parade as they lead Harris from 15th Street Northwest down to the White House following her swearing in ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Howard University President, Wayne A. I. Frederick, said that it was an esteemed honor to be involved in the historic inauguration.


“Throughout her career, the vice president-elect has carried her Howard education with her, ensuring that she adhere to truth and service and inspiring her to achieve unprecedented levels of excellence,” Frederick said in a statement. “It is perfectly fitting that the Showtime Marching Band, the ensemble that captures and reverberates the heartbeat of our institution, should accompany her on this last leg of her journey to the White House. It was that steady pulse of her Alma Mater’s legacy that propelled her forward, and it is that same rhythm that will carry her onward as she undoubtedly will become one of the most influential vice presidents in the history of our nation.”

The 59th inauguration isn’t the first time the Showtime Band has performed for an incoming administration; they welcomed our first Black and forever president, Barack Obama, in 2009. However, this time, they’ve reduced their number to a third of their band members as a precaution, and the university said they would be wearing N-95 masks underneath their uniform masks.

Flashy Flag squad captain, Essence Blake, told WUSA 9 that they’re excited and honored to perform and that all bandsman has taken a COVID-19 test to ensure they’re okay.


“Twenty or 30 years later, I can tell my nieces and nephews and my children and grandkids like, ‘Hey, you know, I was marching on the inaugural escort for Kamala Harris,'” Blake told reporters.

Her co-captain Courtney Gilliam expressed a similar sentiment in a press release, “I think the amendments to this year’s inaugural events are appropriate for the times we are experiencing. I’ve been eager for months to see how Howard University would be included in this momentous inauguration, and it’s great to know that we’re able to safely execute traditional events and be represented as the marching band and musical heart of the vice president’s Alma Mater. As the first of many more progressive elections/inaugurations for women, it feels euphoric to be involved.”

Howard’s band has been invited to participate around the world throughout the years. In the past, they were asked to participate in events like the 1990 Shrewsbury Music Festival in London, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York, NFL Halftime shows, and Bermuda Day festivities in Bermuda.



Kelvin Washington, Howard University’s band director, said he has been working on the perfect song since Harris was selected as President-Elect Joe Biden’s running mate this past August. “We are proud to unite safely as a band to represent Howard University, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and all HBCUs across the country,” Washington said in a statement. “It’s a very gracious opportunity for us, and we’re very thankful for it.”


The band hasn’t had that much time to prepare, but that isn’t an issue for Washington, who’s participated in two inauguration parades.

“I had the pleasure to perform as a student at Southern University in 1980 for former President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, then as associate director of the Howard University Band for former President Barack Obama, and now this one would be my third,” Washington said.

This is a momentous occasion for all. Congratulations, and good luck!


Photo Credit: Howard University

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