White Lives Matter protest in Tennessee forces local bands to switch competitions

MADISON COUNTY, Ala, - As residents and business owners in Murfreesboro and Shelbyvile, Tennessee brace for the possibility of violence this weekend with a White Lives Matter protest planned, many events are being canceled.

That includes a band competition that featured two north Alabama high schools - Sparkman and Bob Jones.

The Senators and Patriot bands were supposed to travel to Murfreesboro this weekend for the "Contest of Champions."

“You get great bands from all over Tennessee and Kentucky, Alabama that go to compete," said Kevin Smart, the Assistant Band Director for Bob Jones.

The COC is the oldest band competition in America but was canceled for the first time in its 57 year history, due to the scheduled protests.

Kevin Smart believes the decision to cancel the competition was the right one.

“Make sure we’re not putting any parents or students in harm's way but obviously kind of disappointing for those students," he said.

Disappointment following the cancellation only lasted a staccato note.

“Spring Hill High School in Tennessee stepped up and said you know what, this means too much especially for seniors but for all the bands going," said Smart.

The newly formed competition called the Contest of Resilience in nearby Spring Hill, Tennessee will allow the Bob Jones and Sparkman bands to play on.

“We’re really excited to go and we think it’s going to be a great atmosphere for everyone to compete in," he said.

Though planned long before this, it's fitting the Patriot's competition show this year is entitled, "Luminous."

“The kind of transformation of just actual light, but then just everyone’s inner light and how we go above and beyond to shine individually to make things better," said Smart.

Smart hopes he and other educators can help illuminate students on why that resilient message matters even more now than ever before.

"Kind of relate what our show is about and how that relates to recent events. Anytime you can find something a musician can relate with, they’re going to play it even better," said Smart.

Smart said organizing a new band competition in less than three days has presented some real challenges, including fundraising.

If you'd like to donate to the Contest of Resilience, click here.