Rattlers remember Robert Champion


A small group of about 40 people, including members of The Marching 100, came together Monday evening to commemorate Robert Champion’s life and legacy.

Nov. 19 marked one year since the death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion.

Champion was beaten to death by his fellow band mates after the Florida Classic in a hazing ritual.

The ceremony allowed university students, faculty and friends of Champion to grieve Champion’s loss and reflect on the progress of the university. SGA Vice President Michael Jefferson addressed the audience.

“We are here to talk about and mark one year later,” Jefferson said. “We mark this day with hope from what we’ve learned.”

Band President Brandon Cunningham reminisced on Champion’s contributions to the Marching 100.

“Robert would come back after practices and tell us the show isn’t hype enough,” Cunningham said. He made sure the show stayed energetic.”

Cunningham also showed his gratitude to those who continue to support FAMU’s band and music department.

“This is our cross to bear, we will bear it and we will recover,” he said. “Pray for the Champion family, pray for FAMU and pray for each other.”

Various university leaders including Interim President Larry Robinson,  SGA President Marissa West and Vice President of Student Affairs William Hudson Jr., reflected on how far the university has come since Champion’s death. They also shed light on the direction that FAMU is headed.

“The work we’ve done has influenced other universities around the nation. We’ve had workshops, forums, a website to report hazing, a hazing research committee and new employment,” Robinson said. “Other institutions will look at what we’ve done to address the problem of hazing.” 

Yao Lydia, a second-year broadcast journalism student from Pompano Beach, said the university will set a trend to eliminate hazing everywhere.

“We’ve definitely cracked down on hazing because we see how serious it is and how it effects our university,” Lydia said. “FAMU sets the trend. Other people will follow what we do.”

The program concluded with musical selections and a unison singing of FAMU’s alma mater. Robinson urged FAMU students and faculty to continue moving forward in eliminating hazing.

“Let’s show the world how to stop hazing,” Robinson said.