LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – HBCU Week brought a new main event to Main Street as some of the best HBCU bands in the country performed their acts at the Magic Kingdom.

Sarah Banner made sure she got a front row view.

“I actually got a flight at 6 o’clock this morning,” said Banner, from North Carolina.

It was important to be there so she could witness something she could never see: her daughter marching down Main Street as part of the North Carolina A’s&T University.

“For her to be able to speak here at the parade, she was very excited,” Banner said.

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Colleagues-parents in the group enjoyed this moment.

“We always bring it. Every time, every stage, everywhere, every field,” said Trina Mace-Barton, whose son is in the band.

North Carolina A&T played Saturday afternoon along with Winston-Salem State University.

The University of Delaware and Alcorn State University marching bands performed in the evening. It’s part of the festivities marking the Walt Disney Resort’s first-ever HBCU Week.

The original event started in 2017 in Delaware. This year, Disney welcomed the event, which includes a college fair, as part of its Disney on the Yard initiative.

“We’ve never been recognized like we are right now, so to be able to be here is such a great opportunity,” said Aria Pendleton, a member of the Alcorn State University Marching Band.

This isn’t the first time HBCU groups have performed at Disney World, but the partnership with HBCU Week is helping usher in a new era of HBCU exposure.

“The majority of African-Americans graduating from college are graduating from HBCUs,” said Avis Lewis, vice president of Disney on The Yard and HBCU alumnus.

Jarius Martin has already planned a trip to Disney World with his family. Finding out it wasn’t HBCU Week was a pleasant surprise.

“He gets to see the excellence of black people,” Martin said of his son witnessing HBCU bands.

April Williams brought her two great-nieces to the performance.

“I just wanted them to come and see how important it is to join an HBCU,” she said.

The show was a treat for all Disney-goers, including those not connected to HBCUs.

“I love the unity of all the schools that come here and celebrate with the magic of Disney,” Hugo SanMartin said immediately after watching the parade with his family.

The kids in the crowd watching the bands must have been dreaming big.

“When I see that, it makes me want to push myself harder,” said Kelia Cannon, who plays trumpet in her school’s marching band.

“Are you thinking of performing here one day?” – we asked.

She simply replied with a confident smile and a “yes ma’am!”

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