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Michigan Marching Band, U-M's Bentley Historical Library

Women, take the field!

By James Tobin
.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen … the Marching Men of Michigan!”

That was the Michigan Marching Band’s hallowed introduction all through the era — the 1940s through the 1960s — when George Cavender belonged to the band, then served as its assistant director.

By temperament and tradition, Cavender was suited to train men, not women.

He was raised among copper miners in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In World War II he commanded a Marine tank group in the Pacific. As director of the Michigan Marching Band, said a saxophonist of the early 1970s, he “accomplished a lot through intimidation and humiliation.”

But it was Cavender, against his every instinct, who first directed women in the marching band.

“Doing what had to be done after so much pressure…”

George Cavender

George Cavender (Image: Records of the University of Michigan Marching Band, U-M’s Bentley Historical Library.)

The idea of admitting women was barely even discussed during the long reign of Cavender’s predecessor, William Revelli, the legendary professor of music who, from 1935 to 1971, built Michigan’s program into the best in the nation, if not the world. (The specter of women invading the marching band arose only once, during World War II, when the number of men on campus plunged. But the marching band stayed all-male, a bragging point at the time.)

Then, in the wake of Revelli’s retirement in 1971, Cavender was appointed as the maestro’s successor. This came at a time when women on campus had been pressing for inclusion in many domains reserved for males. So the men-only rule was officially dropped.

The reason, said Allen Britton, dean of music, was “just life and times, and in doing what had to be done after so much pressure.”

The rule had changed, but George Cavender’s mind had not. He didn’t recruit women and he didn’t tell counselors about the change in policy — “I saw no reason to have done that,” he told The Michigan Daily — so few students learned about it, and no women tried out for the 1971-72 band.

At least one freshman woman, Gail Peters, asked about it, but she was told: “No spaces are open.”

Excuses, excuses

Women join marching band, circa 1972

(Image: Records of the University of Michigan Marching Band, U-M’s Bentley Historical Library.)

According to The Daily: “Cavender said band work would be too strenuous for [Peters], and that the band had traditionally consisted of men.”

That rationale was lost on Peters. “Guys can’t necessarily walk better than me,” she told the paper. “I’ve marched in a band for about six years. And the tradition bit is his way of saying he doesn’t want girls.”

When The Daily pressed Cavender about it, he said: “It’s more violent physical activity than would be proper for a lady. It would be too hard — we couldn’t excuse a woman from rehearsals if she had ‘female problems.’ I certainly don’t excuse any of my boys from practice.”

A girl may have enjoyed marching with her high school band, he conceded, but “now there are other activities which should be her main interest. After all, most girls play with dolls when they’re young and nobody makes them stop doing it. They join Girl Scouts and nobody makes them quit. Why should they stay with a marching band?”

“Trying to make the best of it”

Women with men in marching band, ca 1972.

(Image: Records of the University of Michigan Marching Band, U-M’s Bentley Historical Library.)

This logic was allowed to carry the day until the following summer, when student leaders at Freshman Orientation took the matter into their own hands.

“In my group, we gave a big rap encouraging women to try out [for the band],” one of the leaders, Mary Griffin, told a reporter. “It was pretty common among the rest of the leaders, too.”

So, in the summer of ’72, a number of women did try out, and 10 were accepted.

“Cavender definitely did not want girls in the band,” a male member told The Daily, “but now that they’re in, he’s trying to make the best of it.”

Perhaps so, but the director still wanted no publicity about the change. He forbade members to talk with reporters about it, at least not until after the first half-time show of 1972, scheduled for Sept. 16, when the Wolverines would face Northwestern.

As the band prepared in late-summer heat, some men in the ranks were dubious.

“A girl would just never make it,” one said. “They’d never be able to lift their legs as high as we do for any period of time. On the first day of practice, the guys couldn’t even take it. Four guys threw up right there on the field.”

Do you know more about how the marching band’s gender line was broken? Tell us in a comment below!
Other men were ready for the change.

“I don’t think you can say that the work is too strenuous for most females,” Bruce Flynn told a Dailyreporter. “True, it’s probably too much for a lot of them, but if a girl has been in a marching band in high school, she’s already been exposed to a lot of this kind of work.

“Actually,” Flynn added, “I think that the reason we haven’t got any female members is that we’ve got a lot of frustrated jocks in the band.”

(For this, Flynn reported later, he was told to apologize to his fellow musicians because “it worsens the band’s position when people talk irresponsibly.”)

Picking up her feet and drive, drive, driving!

Girl with clarinet

(Image: Records of the University of Michigan Marching Band, U-M’s Bentley Historical Library.)

When the day came for the first women to take the field, the half-time show was somebody’s idea of a hilarious rebuke to any feminists in the stadium.

First the band played the show-stopper from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, “There is Nothing Like a Dame.”

Then, to the tune of “The Stripper,” the formation took the shape of a woman’s body clad in a skirt, and the announcer called to the crowd: “All those in favor of raising the 1972 skirt length higher, say ‘Aye!’”

To the band’s own cry of “Higher!” the “skirt” moved upward. Then the announcer, in falsetto, cried: “Wait just a minute — there’ll be no exploitation of sex on the football field! Let’s lower that skirt, boys!”

This, said clarinetist Carole Johnson, was “typical Cavender humor.”

The director kept his judgment of the women’s performance to himself, at least in public. But the men in his ranks came to their own view.

“Everyone watches the girls in formation to see if they keep up with the rest,” one of them said.

“They do.”

In 1973, 38 members of the Michigan Marching Band were women. Try-outs soared in subsequent years. By 2014, nearly as many women belonged to the band as men.

Sources included the Michigan Daily, the Detroit Free Press, and Regina Naomi Kane, “The History of the University of Michigan Marching Band,” senior honors thesis in the Department of History, 1977. Top image courtesy of U-M’s Bentley Historical Library.

 

James Tobin

James Tobin

JAMES TOBIN is an author and historian. His latest book, The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency,was published by Simon & Schuster in November 2013. He contributes regularly to the U-M Heritage website, an online repository of historical stories and images about the University.

COMMENTS

  • Joan Crowley - 1978

    It was not just the band that was segregated. All the major recreation facilities were closed to women when I started graduate school there in 1979. Women could, of course, use the swimming pool and the facilities at the League building. Eye candy was approved. But serious exercise was for men.

    Under pressure, they opened the athletic building (I forget the name, sorry) with a small shower facility in the basement that you got to by going around the furnace boiler. I have no idea how they got that place past fire codes. Under even more pressure, they finally allocated one floor of the two floors of locker rooms to women. We were stunned at the size of the place. It allowed an explosion of co-recreational and women’s intramural teams. No one ever ‘gave” women access. The university fought everything back then.

    While U of M was fighting women in the marching band, other Big 10 bands had women marching along with men. By the time the change finally came, we were laughing stocks.

    Reply

    • Daniel De Kok - 1982

      I can tell you from personal experience that the NCRB and the CCRB were populated with men and women during my days at the U. What school did YOU attend?

      Reply

      • Rich Gard - 1983

        I was a freshman in 1979 and remember CCRB being co-ed.

        Reply

    • Phil Rogers - 1975

      When I started in 1967 there were separate gyms where the big Chem Building is now – Waterman for the men and Barbour for the women. I don’t remember if women were in the IM Building. I can’t imagine CCRB ever having been closed to women. Not sure Crowley is telling the truth. As for the Stadium, the myth was that the rich fellow who put up the money stipulated that women not be allowed to perform – something about morals. Without researching it, I can’t vouch for its veracity. As I remember, most of us thought it was quite an oddball thing not having women in the band.

      Reply

  • Jill Sullivan - 1987

    In my two books, “Bands of Sisters: Women’s Military Bands of WWII,” women from the WWII military bands reflect on their college marching band days in the 1950s after the war and prior to the start of the war in the early years of the 1940s. In my forthcoming edited book, two women college professors write chapters about women’s school bands (including university marching bands) and women’s drum and bugle corps, History of Women’s Bands in America: Performing Music and Gender in Society.

    Reply

  • Alan Peterman - 1972

    The Band was not the only all male organization. When I first went to Michigan in the Fall of 1968, women (including reporters) were not even allowed on the football field. I believe that changed the next year. In addition, the cheerleaders were all male. I am not sure when that changed but I miss the backflips off the stadium wall that disappeared when the field was lowered.

    Reply

  • Dave Hazlett - 1975

    I was at homecoming several years back, hanging out by the band building in advance and talked with some women there, learning only at that time that the transition of women joining the band happened after my freshman year. I remembered the “100 marching men of Michigan” announcement at football games previously. I asked if the “integration” had ever been noted, and learned that it had not. We have passed the fortieth year anniversary with no recognition. How about aiming for 2022 for a special “thing” at the game on home coming day. I am sure that the woman that carried the torch would have the where with all to march out there proudly and receive the accolade of over 100,000 fans!

    Reply

  • Jane Miller - 1965

    I was one of those women excluded from trying out for the marching band. Years later when playing in an adult concert band that brought Dr Revelli in to guest conduct, I had the opportunity to pin a boutonnière on his tux. As I did this with much self control, I commented that I was one of those wannabe women excluded from marching band in the early 60′s.

    Reply

  • Wilbur Jones - 1966

    There were no women in the Michigan Marching Band while I was an undergraduate student (or graduate student either!) in Ann Arbor. In fact, as previously mentioned, there were no women on the football field; no band women, no female cheerleaders and no homecoming queen. My thinking on the change was not necessarily a result of some internal change of mind set but more due to impending federal legislation which would eventually prohibit the exclusion of participants based on gender[Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972, Public Law No. 92‑318, 86 Stat. 235 (June 23, 1972), codified at 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1688]. Women were members of the Michigan Symphonic Band during my years at Michigan.

    Reply

  • Sue Green Henderson - 1975

    The clarinetist in the picture is Carol Johnston — she was one of my best friends and roommate and maid of honor. She went on to a very successful career at U of M — she still resides in AA. I am SO PROUD OF CAROL for breaking the gender barrier in 1972 and for all she has accomplished since.

    Reply

  • Karen Dunnam - 1978 (from another institution)

    The article writer apparently overlooked Title IX, which took effect in June 1972.
    As a junior in high school, I discovered the MMB in the fall of ’72 thanks to my older sister inviting me to a football game. Back at school, I did some fact-finding, and realized that I needed to move along from the flute section. Took up baritone horn (it comes in treble clef!) and was accepted into the band in ’74. If memory serves, there were eight women in ’72, and by ’74 there were maybe 20 (including three in my section).
    During alumni pep band outings, alumns from earlier years told me that Cavender dealt with female auditions by calling for “sweeps,” where a group marches up and down the 100 yards of the practice field. This “violent physical activity” created the desired effect, and no women were able to keep up…until the federal law was enacted.
    Despite his earlier attitudes, Cavender was an excellent teacher and mentor, ranking right up there with my HS band director. It’s 40 years later, and I still recite and live by his favorite axioms.
    “There is no distinction in mediocrity”
    “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late”
    and (for any random horn blast)
    “Are you proud of that tone??”
    For what it’s worth, I continued as an adult musician, playing in community bands and street music (look up the Grand Rapids tuba lady). And I coordinate the local Tuba Christmas.
    Title IX is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

    Reply

    • Keith Sipos - 1971

      Actually, those were Revelli’s quotes, which perhaps Cavender repeated.
      Revelli had so many axioms there were printed copies of “Revelli-isms” made up of quotes he had said in rehearsal both inside the concert band room, and marching band. They stuck in one’s mind…and those who became teachers would pass the memorable quotes on in band classrooms. Like the article points out the Michigan Band became the best band ensemble in the world, going on a state dept. visit to the Soviet Union and other Eastern block countries as a measure of “good will” for the country. Playing under Revelli was a once in a lifetime experience. I wish a Biography would be written about the man. He was as colorful as Toscani.

      Reply

      • James Tobin - 1978, 1979, 1986

        Mr. Sipos — There are a couple of good though unpublished biographical pieces about Revelli. If you happen to be in Ann Arbor, you can look them up at the Bentley Historical Library on North Campus.
        James Tobin

        Reply

      • Barry Garelick - 1971

        It was the Symphony Band that went on tour in the Soviet Union in 1961, not the Marching Band. And the Symphony Band did not exclude women–that was only the Marching Band.

        Reply

  • Brian I - 2010

    In reply to a previous comment, there was recognition of the 40th anniversary of women in the marching band several years ago for the Homecoming game (2012 or 2013). A few of the women from that first year came back and marched in the front line of the Alumni Band block. My guess is that there will be more of a celebration for the 50th anniversary.

    Reply

    • Karen Dunnam

      …when the honorees are in their late 60s, and marching truly will be a violent physical activity!

      Reply

  • kenneth copp - 1955

    As the announcer for the 1954 band my intro was—
    Ladies & Gentlemen……The University of Michigan Marching Band.
    In reviewing my script for fall 1954 performances I find no reference to the
    “Marching Men of Michigan”.

    Reply

    • Richard Longfield - '57 & '61

      I agree with Ken – that’s in the memory of my ’53-’56 MMB years. Perhaps the comment was from a person from earlier years. Before UM, Cavendar taught at Ypsilanti H.S.; his marching band was all boys, yet he also had a very successful organization for the girls – I think it was a bagpipe marching group, which takes incredible air strength, but uses a slower less strenuous marching style.

      Reply

    • Richard Alder - 1973, 1974

      As a freshman in 1969, we were announced at pre-game as “180 Marching Men of Michigan”, in 1970 as “192 Marching Men of Michigan”, in 1971 as “The largest band in Michigan history, 215 Marching Men of Michigan”, and in 1972 as “The 214 member Michigan Marching Band.”

      Reply

      • Barry Garelick - 1971

        Correct. I was in the band in 67 and 68 and that was the introduction. (182 Marching Men of Michigan when I was in the Band).

        Reply

    • Edwin Rennell Jr - MMB 1954-55

      1954 was my first year in the band and I was too nervous to have any recollection of what Ken may have said when he introduced the band. And I’ll never forget the look the Chief (Revelli) gave me when he tuned up the trumpets before a Friday night benefit performance (Wheaton, IL, I recall) prior to the Northwestern game! If looks could kill!! And another Revelli axiom – “Not as good as…but better than!”

      Reply

  • Lynn Weiner - 1972

    The story of women in the marching band reflects a larger pattern of gender discrimination that was challenged in the late 1960s and early 1970s at Michigan. (see the introduction to the book – “Women at Michigan: The ‘Dangerous Experiment’ 1870s to the Present”). The stadium press box had a “no women, children or dogs allowed” rule that was successfully contested in 1968 by a Michigan Daily female sportswriter. And Daily photographer Sara Krulwich, now with the New York Times, was the first woman photographer allowed on the football field in 1969. At that time the director of sports information wrote her that he heard she was “a regular photo gal” and that “I guess we are breaking all kinds of tradition around here.” Apparently Michigan Stadium was a site of very visible social change in those days!

    Reply

  • Greg MacDonald - BA '71; MA '73

    As I recall, the final home game of the season before women became part of band the half-time show was designed to introduce the first female member. Only thing was, it was a guy in drag.

    Reply

    • Richard Alder - 1973,

      No truth to that at all.

      Reply

    • Mark Zingle - 1974, 1976

      Like Rich Adler, I have no recollection of that, although I vividly remember the first class of women in the band. Like Rich and many others, I overlapped the men era and men-women era.

      Reply

  • Joan Kellenberg - 1984 (Notre Dame)

    Title IX undoubtedly played a role in pressuring Cavender to accept the inevitable: women have the physical stamina to march well. There have likely been many excellent female athletes in the MMB. My daughter, a freshman alto sax, rowed for Huron High School in AA, one of the best rowing teams in the Midwest, competed in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston and placed third at Nationals. She now channels her drive, focus, and physical strength into the MMB.

    Reply

  • James Martens - 1960

    The cheerleaders were all (mostly?) members of the men’s gymnastics team.

    Reply

    • Luann Grodzicki - 1973, 75

      Hate to say it but the men cheerleaders were a lot more entertaining than the current crews. The alumni old timers are STILL more entertaining

      Reply

  • Bob Bowser - 1971

    FYI the article on women joining the Michigan Marching Band is incorrect. Three women did try out for the marching band in August of 1971. The first day of marching practice was on the newly paved practice field at Wines Field. It was a very hot afternoon. Everyone interested in being in the band practiced picking their legs up with pointed toes so their upper leg (femur) was parallel with the ground. Marching eight steps to every five yards (a stride drill), the entire band marched in measured ranks & columns up and down Wines Field.

    This was not an easy drill. The sweeps from one end of the field to the other end of the field were numerous. As the stride drill seemed to continue on forever, stragglers started to drop out from the ranks of the band. Amongst the early exiters were two of the three women. The band continued to sweep the field and work on picking their legs up sharply and holding their upper leg parallel to the ground for just a fraction of a second. The pavement seemed to get hotter with every stride. Word started working its way through the ranks that the stride drill would continue until all the women were gone. More sweeps of the field ensued. Finally after the heat of the glaring sun would seem to take no more from the ranks of the band, the last standing woman shouted a not very happy farewell to those still standing in the band.

    The remainder of the band did a final sweep or two of the field and called it a day. George had proven his point – at least for one year. The 220 marching MEN of the 1971 Michigan Marching Band was an end of an era. Women were welcomed into the band the following season.

    Reply

    • John Schneider - 1973

      Bob, I was in the band in the fall of 1971. I don’t remember the exercise you are describing. It makes for a great story though. What I do remember is that there was a twirler who wanted to be in the band. She was at every one of our practice sessions, all season long, twirling and doing stunts with her baton in the east end zone. I’m guessing that she was good enough. She should have gone with us to Pasadena, that year.

      Reply

      • Jan Holland - 1973 & 1977

        John,
        The only year I was in the MMB was 1973 as a grad student playing alto horn. George Cavender said that any “girl” had to twirl twice as fast as the male twirlers. She was not chosen as a “Regular”. They also wore the one piece uniform as the men so the TV cameras would not zero in on the “girls”.

        Reply

      • Bob Evenden - 1975 1981

        I was one of those twirlers. Mark Brown was the drum major in his senior year. There were four of us and there was no female twirler hanging around in those early days. The first class of women came the next year as told in the story. However, I understood it was such as small group because it was only advertised at the last minute. I ended up getting to know one of them; she went with the band to the Orange bowl or super bowl …the first post season performance for the band other than the Rose Bowl. There was no loss of ability or performance. When women were finally admitted into the twirling ranks, (1973???) the criticism was that they looked too masculine. I went to homecoming this year, and they women did not look masculine. They adopted traditional outfits years ago, but I’m not sure when. Having the “marching men of Michigan” balanced with the women in the ranks was a good thing. thanks for the article.

        Reply

  • Janice (Jan) Dodge - 1979

    The marching band provided great musical, physical, social and emotional experiences to both genders!!!! I am so grateful to have been a part of it and to have been a student of George Cavender! 1975-79 were exciting years, but 1979-80, the first season after GRC’s retirement brought many challenges. That year four (instead of the usual two) Grad. Assts – (remember the “t” is silent!!!!!!!) were hired. Eric Becher, John Stout, Jim Otto and Jan(ice) Dodge (female) worked with new director, Glenn Richter. I encountered no gender bias, but realized I was the first woman to do this. For the band to go from no women to having a female graduate assistant speaks to the greatness of our U of M as well as the influence of Title IX and the suitability of women as part of the organization!! Although there has been some revisionist history surrounding those years of transition, I have no doubt that the MMB continues to be the awesome evolving entity it has always been!!!! I have retired after 31 years teaching music in my home state of Maine, still have GO BLU on my license plate and wish much YUBA to all who have loved the University of Michigan Marching Band!!!!!!

    Reply

    • Mark Horning - 1977

      Didn’t know your were the first asst to break the barrier Jan! Very fitting and well deserved position for you! Hope all is well.

      Reply

      • Jan Dodge - 1979

        Great music teaching gig; retirement is a blast – like a whole new life!!!! what’s up with you????

        Reply

  • Greg Heuer - 1969

    I read this article and the comments with a warmth in my heart. Yes, in my years (65-69) we were the Men of Michigan. At the same time I’m overjoyed that a number of “my” bands”men” from Belleville High School Bands were among the first women of the MMB. I’m particularly proud of the leadership role Sandy Scothorn took with the Drumline during her tenure. Go Blue from an “old guy” in Virginia.

    Reply

  • G.M. Freeman - 1950

    I see no problem with having a marching band composed of males. The political correctness that has entered our country is more destructive than constructive. Likewise, no problem with a female marching band. The politicians and those of similar persuasion have carried this gender stuff too far.

    Reply

    • Karen Dunnam - MMB '74

      Uppity wimmen on the supreme court? They should stay in the House…and the Senate…and the statehouse. I am guessing that the dozens of fellows who’ve met their future spouses in the MMB would hold a different opinion.
      On another note [hah], there’s still an all-male marching band in our fair state. They won’t let women join (first-hand knowledge here) but they dress up like women. They do not discriminate on the basis of race or sexual orientation (as far as I can tell), just by gender. And they accept public funds. Yes, 42 years after Title IX.

      Reply

  • Lynne (Buben (Wainfan) - 1979

    I was a high-schooler at Band Day back in the 70s. When the MMB did their entry, I decided then and there that I would be in that band. Applied to 1.0 colleges. Because my high school counselor screwed up, I was rejected from Michigan. Admissions said I could go to Engineering school instead. Didn’t want to be an engineer, but had to be in that band, so I decided to try to become an astronaut
    Little did I know that when I first saw the band, there were no girls.
    Ignorance was indeed bliss.
    Oh, and by the way, I’ve been promised a suborbital flight with a private firm.

    Reply

    • Steve Selin - 1974

      Wow, quite a story. I was in the band in fall 72 & 73. I had the same experience when our high school band came to Michigan for Band Day, Mona Shores High School. I can still remember them coming out of the tunnel that day in 1968.

      I am very sad we do not do Band Day anymore. No seats for high school kids to experience what we did. Big money and season tickets took over years ago. I would give up my season tickets for one of the early games to make it happen. I think I’ll suggest it to the new AD.

      It is so cool Lynee that music and the Michigan Band changed your career.

      Reply

  • Christy (LaVanway) Lebor - 2003

    While this article covers the general integration of women in the marching band, it does not discuss the even longer male-dominated position of the “man in front.” As far as I understand it, the Drum Major position had been only held by men until the early 2000s. As an undergrad, I used to workout at the IM building on the south side of campus across from Ebel Field. My Sophmore year (2000-2001) I met a fellow female classmate named Karen English who also frequented the gym. She and I got to know each other over the months and I saw her practicing back bends and baton twirling. I found out that she was practicing to audition to become the Drum Major of MMB, and if she succeeded she would be the first female to hold the position. I believe she did audition and did become the first female Drum Major, either in 2001 or 2002. I can’t remember which year it was exactly. At any rate, I remberomg being very proud of her and marveling that there were still gender barriers in the 21st century at such a progressive school. I’d love confirmation that she did infact hold the position (and what year it was) as well as an update on what she is doing today if anyone knows. She was such a gunner, I remember her telling me that she wanted to be an astronaut for NASA (she was an astronomy major.) Thanks!

    Reply

  • Annette O'Malley - 1974

    The article mentions ” after so much pressure”, part of that pressure was the all female kazoo bands that played outside the stadium every game in the early 70′s. We would not be ignored!

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  • Doug Martin - 1971

    While Revelli and George may have had their biases (in sync with the general population of the day), it was in fact the policy of the Athletic Department to prohibit women on the field. Thus, no women in the band, no women cheerleaders and no women “trainers” with the team.

    Reply

  • Craig Matteson - 1981 and 2003

    Under Revelli, the marching band was mostly music majors. At least music majors were pushed into the band. And the men had a very fast double (triple? quadruple?) step as they took the field.

    Cavender was a wonderful man. I do not understand this article’s tone in making him into some kind of a sexist bully.

    The band has changed and is now made up of mostly NON-music majors. And they do not cadence as quickly as they did in the olden days. Which you prefer is up to you. I just wish we could tell the truth instead of making everything political. Change is fine. But it is change, and we should admit what we gain and what we lose in the process.

    Reply

  • Patricia Barone - 1974

    I remember vividly the debate on campus regarding whether female students should be allowed to be in the Marching Band and the claim by the band director that they were not strong enough to be in the Band.
    I also recall a fellow female student at Michigan who was threatened with a bad grade by her instructor because she would not go out on a date with him. When she sought help from a counselor (a woman), she was told that she should be flattered that the teacher had taken an interest in her!
    Fortunately, things were changing rapidly during my years at U of M, 1970-1974, and women students agitated and obtained opportunities that had been denied them for decades at this University and the world in general.

    Reply

  • ann steiner - '67 Indiana University

    Karen England became the first female Drum Major in April 2001.

    Reply

  • Howard Weinblatt - 1968

    I was Chair of Homecoming 1967. We like the rest of campus, were in the midst of enormous social and political change. How does one translate that into, of all things “Homecoming”. We a parade with a Homecoming Queen (a black woman with outstanding academics and service to the community… no evening gowns or bathing suits) and smuggled several women onto the field at half time dressed as Michigan Cheerleaders. I believe they were the first women on the field during a game although they didn’t stay long. The most fascinating part of the experience was watching the outcome in the press between traditionalists who are opposed to women involved in Football, those who saw the stunts as feminist protests and those that thought they were misogynist attempts to objectify women. If nothing else, it got people talking about concepts that were more complex in those days than they seem today.

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  • Ken Copp - Jan 1955

    I was the stadium band announcer in fall 1954 & my script makes NO reference to “the marching mem” !! My intro was……ladies & gentlemen…the Michigan Marching Band !! Band ….take the field.

    Reply

  • Lynne Buben Wainfan - 1979

    re: the pressure to let girls in the MMB–at a party in LA, I ran into the gal who wrote the article for the Detroit Free Press that had a big effect. Her piece was titled something like, “The Mighty Marching Men of Michigan,” and she reports that readers pressured those above Cavender to admit women to the MMB. Evidently other bands had admitted women years before, but Cavender and his boss (Reynolds?) were resistant. Shortly after her article came out, women were admitted to the band.

    Reply

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