YPSILANTI -- Amara Booker and Noah Lopez, drum majors for the Eastern Michigan University marching band, are both in their fourth year and are excited to bring more recognition to the talented musicians that play in the band.
A big selling point for many on EMU is our diverse campus. When asked their thoughts on how the University’s diversity is or is not represented in the marching band, Booker says she has never been in a marching band where the diversity of the campus and the band have aligned, and the same can be said for Eastern. Booker noticed that local high school band programs are underfunded, which may contribute to people of color not joining the marching band or sticking with it in college.
However, things are changing now that more people of color are being put in leadership roles. “For the first two years, I was the only person of color that was on the leadership team, and this year I feel very excited to be able to be accompanied by Noah and four or five other people of color on the leadership team,” Booker says. Acting as a role model for incoming freshmen is important to Booker, as it shows underclassmen that they have an opportunity to become leaders in their communities, and that “hopefully more people of color will follow.”
Lopez echoes Booker’s sentiment. “Not many people in my high school and community continued to do band nor marching band in college, but I think if campuses like Eastern and other schools reached out to these high schoolers and middle schoolers and showed them that they can continue band, it would show more people of color that they can keep doing music and even be a leader in their community,” he says.
Lopez also says he remembered a time back in high school where two other students of color were made drum majors, and that back then, it didn’t seem to matter as much to him that they were people of color. “It was more that we saw these people as two very prominent leaders and two very good musicians that deserved the position,” Lopez says. He wants people to know that it is very important to put people of color in leadership roles, and at the end of the day, he and Amara are two people who love what they do.
Booker and Lopez are avid musicians outside of school, practicing alto saxophone and drumming, respectively, in their free time. Outside of music, Amara likes to watch and play basketball, and Noah likes to build Legos. Lopez is pursuing music in his career as a Music Education major, and Booker is double-majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.