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Howard University marching band escorts alum Kamala Harris at inaugural parade

This inaugural parade may have looked different than past ones, but the Showtime Marching Band lifted spirits.
The Howard University marching band performs during the presidential escort, part of Inauguration Day ceremonies.
The Howard University marching band performs during the presidential escort, part of Inauguration Day ceremonies.Carolyn Kaster / AP
/ Source: TODAY

The 2021 inaugural parade included a nod to newly sworn-in Vice President Kamala Harris' alma mater, Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The historically Black university's Showtime Marching Band escorted Harris to the White House on Wednesday for her first entrance as the 49th vice president of the U.S.

It was a special moment on many levels.

The performance marked the first time the students had been together since before the pandemic, the school said. And many felt the weight of the historic day, with Harris, who graduated from Howard University in 1986, being the nation's first Black, female vice president. She's also the first graduate of a historically Black college or university, or HBCU.

"It feels euphoric to be involved," Courtney Gilliam, co-captain of the flag squad, said in a news release the school shared earlier this week.

Of course, this inaugural parade wasn't like any before it. Without the throngs of spectators, it was noticeably quieter, and instead of walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, Harris and President Joe Biden received a military escort to the White House.

Howard's marching band lifted spirits, though. The band included a drum line, flag squad and dancers. But it wasn't the whole band: Due to COVID-19 precautions, less than one-third of the students attended in person, the school said.

And despite being apart for so long, they didn't miss a beat.

Neither did Harris: When one student yelled, "H-U!" to her, she even responded, "You know," — a popular chant among Howard students — according to Yolanda Pierce, who wrote about the moment on Twitter.

Harris has been vocal about her support for HBCUs, and on Wednesday, students from those schools across the country cheered on their new vice president.

Howard University president Wayne A. I. Frederick found the performance fitting for Harris. "It was that steady pulse of her alma mater’s legacy that propelled her forward, and it is that same rhythm that will carry her onward as she undoubtedly will become one of the most influential vice presidents in the history of our nation," he said in the news release.