Mayor Rybak Welcomes African-American Drum Corps to Aquatennial Parade after 43-Year Absence
Mayor will march with group in tonight’s parade, declares "Sabathanite Drum Corps Day" in City of Minneapolis
July 21, 2010 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak today welcomed back the Sabathanite Drum Corps to tonight’s Aquatennial CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade after a 43-year absence by proclaiming July 21 "Sabathanite Drum Corps Day" in the City of Minneapolis.
Mayor Rybak will march with the Sabathanites in tonight’s parade.
The Sabathanites, who are associated with the Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis, have not performed in the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade since 1967. Following an exuberant display of music and dancing at the conclusion of that year’s parade, members of the corps and two other African American groups were met with police nightsticks. From that date forward, the Sabathanites chose not to perform in the annual parade.
This year, however, they approached the Minneapolis Downtown Council, organizer of the Aquatennial, about joining the Torchlight Parade again. The Sabathanites wanted to honor long-time corps member Mike Hines, who passed away earlier this year, and reasoned that enough time had passed since 1967. The Downtown Council responded enthusiastically to the Sabathanites’ overture.
Jonathan Guilmant marched with the Sabathanites in the 1967 parade and will be marching with them again at tonight’s Torchlight Parade to mark their return after 43 years.
"We’re marching tonight both to honor Mike Hines and to inspire young people in our community," Mr. Guilmant said. "When I joined the Sabathanite Drum and Bugle Corps in the 1960s, it kept me and young people like me off the streets: we had to do our homework and keep our grades up at school if we wanted to march, and it inspired us to do so. Now we’d like to do the same for the next generation and inspire them to carry the torch.
"We’ve been pleased that Downtown Council has welcomed us back so warmly. We’re looking forward to marching and playing for folks in tonight’s parade and we hope to keep up the tradition every year," Mr. Guilmant added.
The late Mike Hines, whom the Sabathanites are honoring at tonight’s Torchlight Parade, was the brother of Sounds of Blackness founder Gary Hines, who will also be marching with them this evening.
"The Sabathanites’ rejoining the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade this evening is a great Minneapolis story of healing and redemption," said Mayor R.T. Rybak. "We acknowledge, as we must, the violence that the Sabathanites suffered 43 years ago and the racism that they and groups like them endured. But we also celebrate the indomitable spirit that has kept them going strong for nearly 50 years and the reconciliation between them and our city that is taking place this evening.
"I welcome back the Sabathanites on this joyous occasion and encourage parade-goers to join me in getting their groove on to the Sabathanites’ rhythms. I hope all Minneapolis residents will reflect on this chapter of our city’s history and join us in starting a new chapter tonight," Mayor Rybak concluded.
"We were thrilled to hear that the Sabathanite Drum Corps wanted to join us this year," said Aquatennial Festival Director Leah Wong. They are undoubtedly one of the most talented community drum corps and we look forward to their participation this evening."
Published Jul. 21, 2010