On the Friday, October 5th edition of the nationally syndicated talk show,“KATIE,”(check local listings, www.katiecouric.com), host Katie Couric sits down with Pamela and Robert Champion, the parents of drum major Robert Champion for an exclusive interview just days before members of the renowned Florida A&M marching band go on trial for the hazing death of their son. Actor and motivational speaker, Hill Harper also joined Couric to talk about hazing that continues to grow on campuses across America despite the recent tragedies. Champion was beaten in the dark on a bus after a football game, ultimately leading to his death a year ago. To get a sense of what happened on the night he died, Harper went into the field to speak with two of Robert’s former band mates, one of whom faces trial next week.
Sound bites from the episode:
ROBERT’S MOTHER SAYS HE WASN’T THE HAZING TYPE
KC: Did he talk to either of you all about this hazing ritual that involved I guess the whole percussion section of the band, this crossing Bus C. Did he ever mention anything about that to either of you all?
PC and RC: No.
KC: So you knew nothing that he– because apparently he wasn’t very enthusiastic about it, but then he decided in order to win the respect of the other members of the band, he would go ahead and do this.
PC: Well I can’t agree to that because Robert has made it this far and it’s just kind of hard to believe that at this particular time he felt like he needed to gain the respect. You have to know Robert, and he was never the kind of a person that felt like he had to get the approval in spite of. I mean, you’re talking about a child that would march around in the driveway with a broom stick, out in the open where everybody could see him, and his sisters would make fun of him, but he didn’t care because it was what he wanted to do.
IGNORING THE ISSUE / A FOUNDATION TO STOP HAZING
KC: You started your own organization in response to Robert’s death.
PC: That’s correct.
KC: What do you hope to accomplish with that Pamela?
PC: I hope to eradicate hazing all together. The whole purpose of the foundation is to do what Robert was about – against hazing – so much so that we know of students that he talked to and encouraged them not to do this. So that’s something he started and it’s up to me to finish. And the whole purpose of that foundation is to end hazing as we know it today, because it’s clearly, it’s not just a FAMU thing, it’s not just my thing, it’s in every university, every school, anything in the educational system is there. So the whole thing is to get rid of that mentality.