“A&M, A&M, A&M, A&M, U, wooooo, a …”
I heard the Alabama A&M chant throughout my childhood in Huntsville, Alabama. More than the chant, A&M line dances, marching band routines, and majorette eight counts were passed down to several of the high schools and multiple middle schools in north Alabama. At each football and basketball game, you could be sure to hear a high school band play song that closely resembled the pieces performed by the Alabama A&M Marching band.
More than music and athletics, the people of North Alabama were influenced by the scores of A&M teachers, teaching assistants, substitute teachers, camp counselors, and community center employees dotted throughout the region. A&M alumni teach classes, lead workshops, and serve in churches throughout the Alabama and their influence is widespread.
As a public land-grant institution, A&M has extension staff working all over the state of Alabama. In addition to their extension services, A&M’s agricultural work with forestry gives them access to over 2000 acres of land that spans three area codes from Huntsville to south Alabama past the cities of Auburn and Tuskegee.
Currently, Alabama A&M University serves over 5,300 students and boasts more than 40,000 alumni world-wide. From the original Hooper Councill Training school to the new expansions on campus resulting from Knight v Alabama desegregation case settlement money, Alabama A&M University is merging its historic past with its progressive future to provide opportunities for forgotten and underserved sons and daughters of North Alabama and the entire Tennessee Valley.
Alabama A&M University, though technically located in Normal, AL, is surrounded on every side by the city of Huntsville, the fourth largest city and second largest metropolitan service area in the state of Alabama. Originally located in downtown Hunstville, Alabama A&M was Huntsville’s only public 4-year higher education institution for 75 years until the establishment of University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) in 1950. Alabama A&M was nearly all Black, and UAH is branch of the same school that resisted the federal government’s demand to desegregate, thus creating a race-based dual-system of higher education in Hunstville. College desegregation lawsuits and federal policies have ruled in favor Alabama A&M, providing additional funds to the campus for capital improvements resulting in the a new athletic facility, residence center, and numerous academic buildings on the campus. “The Hill” is still recognizable to older alum, while providing new state of the art facilities for today’s tech savvy college students.
Boasting the city’s only college football team, Alabama A&M attracts a respectable crowd for Saturday night home football games and its marching band has total influence on North Alabama’s high school and middle school bands. The football stadium hosts a number of high school football games and the Agricultural Exhibition Center puts on events that draws various population groups to the campus. Alabama A&M has a strong and significant influence on the majority Black north Huntsville area, and the greater Tennessee Valley region. Alabama A&M has 140 years of making the world better for our people and I look forward to 140 more years of the Bulldog boogie.