Jackson State Sonic Boom vs. Tennessee State Aristocrat of Bands at the #southernheritageclassic13

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Although the annual Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis is a football game, Black college football classics are never JUST football games. It’s just as much about the pageantry and battling of the drumlines, bands and majorettes, the cameraderie and fun, good food and general good times. The Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South is consistently one of the best marching bands in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and Tennessee State’s Aristocrat of Bands is also well-known and well-regarded. In addition to the mandatory halftime show, bands from Black colleges often engage in an after-game ritual known as the “Fifth Quarter”, in which the two bands compete for crowd acclaim by playing tunes back and forth at each other after the game. Although this tradition has been somewhat restricted and shortened in recent years, it is still very much a part of the Black college football tradition.

Jackson State’s Sonic Boom of the South at the Southern Heritage Classic Parade in Orange Mound

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The Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South marching band is usually the first band in the annual Southern Heritage Classic Parade in Orange Mound, and is extremely popular, as there have always been a number of Memphis musicians in that band, and many of the Memphis high school band programs are led by educators who attended Jackson State.

The JSU Sonic Boom Marching Out of Veterans’ Memorial Stadium, Jackson MS

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#059 Jackson State Sonic Boom (by John Shaw)

The Jackson State Sonic Boom of the South marches out of Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson MS, 9/22/12