'Battle of the Bands' caps off first-ever HBCU Week at Disney 

ByTaRhonda Thomas via WPVI logo
Monday, October 10, 2022
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Just the anticipation was enough to make fans dance as they walked into the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida -- Just the anticipation was enough to make fans dance as they walked into the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

"It's all about the culture, for real," exclaimed Ashley Springs, whose son is a member of the North Carolina A&T Band.

Anyone who knows HBCU bands knows they're the real show on game day.

As HBCU fan Felicia Smith describes, halftime is not the time for fans to leave their seats at an HBCU football game.

"They're in the stands," said Smith. "They're watching. They're cheering. They're hollering!"

So what happened on Sunday afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex was an HBCU band fan's dream come true.

SEE ALSO: Dream come true: On-the-spot scholarships offered during HBCU Week at Walt Disney World

The marching bands from Delaware State University, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State University went head-to-head in a Battle of the Bands.

"I am so happy that Disney has opened it up for HBCUs to get the attention," said parent Cardona Lewis.

It was a memorable moment as Disney hosts HBCU Week for the first time. The event, which started in Wilmington, Delaware in 2017, featured a career fair, a parade down Main Street, and a Battle of the Bands.

"I'm so appreciative because I see how Disney is embracing culture," said Rachel Wesley as she got ready to go into the stadium.

As good as the music was at the Battle of the Bands, it wasn't all about the show.

For some kids, HBCU Week was a life changer.

"I have decided that I want to go to an HBCU," said high school senior Kemauri Young.

SEE ALSO: HBCU Week Disney 2022: Bands bring the bass to Magic Kingdom

Felicia Smith brought several of her students to Friday's career fair, which featured on-the-spot admissions and scholarships. It had 8,657 student attendees.

"This was their first experience with HBCUs, it was amazing. Four of them got accepted to Alcorn State," said Smith.

Tracee Davis founded a dance school that focuses on teaching girls HBCU dance styles. A number of her students are now also attending HBCUs. Some were even on the field Sunday in the Battle of the Bands.

Their school choices are not just because of the academics but also because of the culture -- with HBCUs offering an atmosphere like none other.

"Historically Black Colleges and Universities really provide supportive culture, a supportive environment to ensure the students thrive," said Tunisia Agramonte, who is vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion for Disney's DPEP program.

With all of that in mind, it doesn't really matter who wins the Battle of the Bands... or does it?

"It doesn't, but coming for the bands, it kinda does," said one Howard University alum in the stands.

After all, what's an HBCU band without a good battle?

The Walt Disney Company is the owner of this ABC station.