History was made at the 130th annual Rose Parade when Alabama State University became the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to lead the parade.

Nationally acclaimed, the Mighty Marching Hornets, led by Dr. James B. Oliver, is one of two HBCU marching bands appearing in the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The other is the Florida Agriculture & Mechanical University Marching 100. Both bands join 18 other marching bands at the parade.

One of the world’s most popular parades, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade is seen by more than 70 million people in over 150 countries.

“I’m telling everybody, you have to catch the parade from the beginning, said band director, Dr. James Oliver, “otherwise you are going to miss the best band there is”.

In most cases, interested prospects, which also include floats and equestrian units, apply to participate and anxiously await a response from the parade selection committee. Not in the case of ASU.

“The president of the Tournament of Roses, the first African-American president (Gerald Freeny), reached out and asked if we’d apply,” Marching Band Director James Oliver said. “It’s a historic time, to have the very first African-American president of the Tournament of Roses, and it’s going to go down in history for ASU to have participated in the parade.”

Oliver called the trip a “dream come true. This is a big after Christmas present for these guys and they are excited they are really excited” he said about his band members.

Thousands of spectators lined the parade route but Oliver and the group also made several other special performances including a stop at a nursing home for seniors that aren’t able to attend the parade. That’s all a part of nearly a week of “unforgettable experiences” Oliver said, that would not be possible without the outpouring of community support.

“It’s not easy to raise $300- or $400,000 to make this trip so it means a lot to our university but it represents so much because we’re representing the state of Alabama and we’re also representing the city of Montgomery,” he said.


  1. This article is False. Alabama A&M University Marching Maroon and White Band was the first HBCU band to lead the Tournament of Roses Parade in 2006 but congrats to asu for leading this year.

  2. Congratulations on being in the Tournament of Roses parade. However, this article is incorrect, Alabama A&M Marching Maroon and White band, were the first HBCU bands to lead the parade in 2006.

  3. How disappointing to know that this information was not vetted prior to publication. Alabama A&M University’s Marching Maroon and White was the first HBCU band to LEAD the Rose Parade in 2006. Mississippi Valley State was the first HBCU to march in the parade in the 60’s.

  4. Incorrect information on Alabama State being the first HBCU to lead the Rose Bowl Parade it’s was Alabama A&M University in 2006 please research and correct your information they were invited by then Libby Wright Evans the Rose Tournament President a native of Birmingham, Alabama

  5. I love ASU, but this is not true. On January 2, 2006, the “Marching Maroon and White” Band was the lead band for the Annual 117th Tournament of Roses Parade.

  6. Congratulations !!!!!!

    Alabama State University

    I enjoyed watching this band and enjoyed the parade………

  7. Who ever wrote this article has brain fog, and probably not an HBCU graduate. So so so sad. Congrats to the ASU mighty marching HONEY BEES, Oops I mean Hornets. You know how we do.

  8. Congratulations to Alabama State for participating and representing HBCU’S in the tournament of roses parade but clearly the editor of this article did not research the history of HBCU participants associated with this parade. It’s kind of disrespectful to the legacy and history of The Marching Maroon and White Band. That accomplishment is a prestigious part of our band accolades and history that we take astounding pride in. Not to discredit ASU accomplishments because it’s an honor for all of us HBCU bands in showcasing and displaying our band culture for the world to see, but be fair and politically correct when enlightening awareness and education of the accomplishments and origins of the history pertaining to this Prestigious World renowned Parade especially when highlighting HBCU bands. Congrats to The Marching 100 as well. Great ambassadors for FAMU and HBCU class and showmanship! MMW one time!

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