Most colleges have a marching band, but there is nothing like an HBCU band. The unity and showmanship, the captivating choreography, and the excitement from the crowd all come together to encompass the feeling of Black joy and HBCU pride.

The marching band is a significant part of the HBCU experience, dating back to 1946 when Dr. William P. Foster began incorporating dance steps into Florida A&M’s  The Marching “100” band routines. As BestColleges reports, “He and the Marching “100” pioneered a new style that entertained audiences with high-stepping, horn-swinging showmanship infused with Black culture and Black excellence.” Today, almost all HBCUs have a marching band that embraces this innovative style and performance tradition.

Marching bands play a key role at HBCUs and in Black music and performance history. They bring in the crowd at football games for their electrifying halftime performances and are usually the main attraction for the homecoming parade. Many bands have also entertained audiences at events at the local, national, and international levels. 

A competitive spirit is a big part of HBCU band culture so we have to ask, which HBCU band is the best? 

You voted, we listened. Here are the results for this year’s Top HBCU Bands!


1. Spartan Legion – Norfolk State University

The award-winning Norfolk State University Spartan “Legion” Marching Band takes the top spot this year! The “Legion” was founded in 1975 and consists of 250 staff and student musicians, dancers, and flags from states nationwide, including, the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. The “Legion” exhibits a presence evocative of the storied “Spartans”. They have had quite the performance year, having performed at Pharrell Williams’s Mighty Dream business forum, the celebration of Missy Elliott Boulevard, and the Rivers Casino opening in Portsmouth. NSU’s Spartan Legion also got to perform in the 2023 Rose Bowl Parade in California for the first time ever, and most recently at Mercedes Benz Stadium for the Battle of the Bands.