What would Bethune-Cookman football be without the band?
The university's namesake not only saw the importance of athletics as part the institution she founded, but played a major role in the genesis of the band program that has evolved into the "The Marching Wildcats".
The Marching Wildcats are as much as the show as the football team is during the fall. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune knew that her college needed a marching band during the early days. And she got some help to get it started from a source that seems a tad far-fetched given the rivalry: the Florida A&M band.
You can get back in your chairs, now.
When the first Bethune-Cookman band formed in 1930, it had 30 members. The instruments came from our sister school in Tallahassee. It was a simple continuation of helping each other out. The Florida A&M-Bethune-Cookman connection has another bright note. The legendary Samuel Berry, a former Marching “100” member who came to B-CC and laid the foundation for today's Marching Wildcats.
On a sunny day in his longtime Orlando home, Ernest “Pete” Boyd sat at his piano and played melodies at random.
The piano sits in a room surrounded by medals, trophies and certificates that tell a story about his esteemed career as a musician, his time as an educator and service to the Black community in Orlando, some of which has happened through his lifetime membership in Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Boyd is a percussion genius, and he cut his teeth at Jones High School. “Because of my mentor, he was like my dad, Mr. James W. Wilson. I wanted to be like him, and that was the only reason I really majored in music, because of him,” Boyd said.
Music is why so many people in the African American community know exactly who Boyd is. He taught at all of the Black schools in Orlando. “Carver, Hungerford, Wymore and Jones,” Boyd listed them off.
Jones High School is also where Boyd, who is now 83, earned his high school diploma. It was the only school where Blacks from Orlando, Apopka, Winter Garden and other Orange County communities were allowed to get an education until about 1953, as whites continued their protests to keep Blacks out of their schools. This information was provided by Mr. Ernest Boyd in 2011.There were 11 original members who reported to Dr. Allen Pike on September 1, 1955. We, the band members, always thought this was the beginning of the new era of the Bethune Cookman College Marching Wildcats. The "Original 11" are exceptionally proud of the diversified level of performances the B.C.U.
The "Original 11" and their then hometowns are:
1. (x) Henry Bailey: Monticello, FL
2. Moses Ball: Sarasota, FL
3. Ernest Boyd: Orlando, FL
4. Bennie Denson: Columbus, GA
5. Albert Eden: West Palm Beach, FL
6. (x) Nick Johnson: Columbus,
. Cecelia Montgomery: Statesboro, GA
8. (x) Terry Nimmons Hastings, FL
9. (x) Arthur Watson: Columbus, GA
10. Marvin Wilson: West Palm Beach, FL
11. Wendell Wooten Statesboro, GA
(x) Deceased Members
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