There are three official black holidays*: Kwanzaa, Juneteenth, and Circle City Classic weekend. I pretty much block out my entire day in order to fully partake in the ritual activities – beginning first thing in the morning with the Circle City Classic Parade. Dozens of local and national marching bands, repleat with dancers and twirlers** drew thousands of folks to downtown Indianapolis.
As always, the crowd is always my favorite part of the parade. Audience participation ranged from welcoming each parade car, carefully labeled with the name of the occupant. For example, “Hey Mitch!” greeted our man Governor Mitch Daniels (and we’re polite too, welcoming even the unsung heroes: “Hey, Driver!”). We learned that Darrin Henson’s (from Soul Food and Stomp the Yard) car should never stop. He got mobbed by adoring fans.

My children’s favorite float, Garfield, sported a gangsta lean and his car bounced like it had bad hydraulics.

The battle of the bands didn’t feel like much of a battle. Florida A&M;’s Marching 100 took the streets like the Persian army in 300 (too bad Winston-Salem’s football team defeated Florida A&M; 27-23).

We decided to make a day of it and go to the Greek Stepdown that evening (skipping the game, because, well, a brother’s between pay days). For the uninitiated, stepping is a tradition of black Greek organizations dating as far back as the 1900s. Step shows combine stomping, clapping, dancing, chants and music and tell the history and values behind the fraternities and sororities. These affairs feature members of the “Divine Nine” (the nine historically black fraternities and sororities).
Security was in effect. The last time I was at the convention center, it was for GenCon and I didn’t even have to check my light saber. The good news is that my prostate is clean (although, a guard did take a look at one young lady’s outfit and said “you ain’t hiding anything. Go ahead.”)
The Army Elite Step Team set things off, for real, setting a high standard for the night’s competition. Unlike previous years, there was not a single dud performance, though I will say that the step show is like the NBA dunk contest: I don’t mind props, but if you’re going to use them, give us a show. (And there are probably STILL some Omegas on stage from the roll call.) Hands down, however, the winner was the Memoirs of Devastating Divas routine of the Deltas.
The Circle City Classic represents millions to the city and is every bit an institutional part of our culture as a city and as a people. It’s a showcase of hope also: young black men and women coming together in a celebration of their college fraternities and sororities. History, tradition, and education celebrated and venerated. That sounds like exactly the type of values our city should be modeling as a beacon of light for our future.

*Let’s face it, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr has become everyone’s day and Indiana Black Expo is more a way of life.

**Big girls represent! I know they want to put you in spandex, stick you in the back, make you jump around, twirl the flag, break down some steps, then make you drop into the splits. But you don’t let it slow your roll. You know that you define beauty. Go ‘head with your fine selves.