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Tulane University

West Baltimore marching band shapes the next generation of an African-American tradition

West Baltimore marching band shapes the next generation of an African-American tradition

On a recent summer morning, this tiny town was jolted from stillness when the syncopated rhythms played on drums by black boys and men rumbled through its streets. The drummers marched and sweated, their white shakos insufficient shields from the oppressive heat.

In front of them, a group of female dancers clad in white boots and turquoise leotards, bright blue feathers affixed to their elaborate hairdos, twirled, kicked and chanted with pompoms in their hands. The youngest girls, just 5 years old, struggled with the complex steps, but any deficits in skill were overshadowed by sass.

The spectators, who stood in front of large single-family homes, cheered and clapped in...

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