Inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Drum Major Instinct” message, the Drum Major Empowerment Foundation, Inc. (DME) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students further their education at post-secondary institutions. DME provides scholarship awards, college readiness preparation, student leadership development, and hazing prevention education. DME aims to empower, enlighten, and positively influence the academic, social, and personal trajectories of students in grades 9 through 12.
On November 19, 2011, Florida A&M University marching band Drum Major, Robert Champion, died after participating in a violent hazing ritual. The following year, FAMU launched a $50,000 research initiative that would give faculty and graduate students at FAMU the opportunity to study the nature and extent of hazing attitudes and behaviors among campus organizations. This research led to a focus on interventions that can be used to increase awareness and strengthen safe participation in student activities. As time progressed, what began as a vehicle to spread hazing prevention education and leadership strategies soon developed into marching band training camps, group-facilitated workshops, and interactive educational presentations. This evolved into what is now known as Drum Major Empowerment. DME was founded by Devon Marrett, who served as a Drum Major with the FAMU marching band program for 2 years. He later worked as a research assistant with FAMU’s Anti Hazing Research Initiative, completed graduate studies in Community Psychology, and served as an Adjunct Faculty member within the Department of Psychology at FAMU.