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History of the Belleville Black Knights

The Belleville Black Knights were organized in the fall of 1953 when Forrest Creson and Verne Poole combined their talents to form an all-male junior drum & bugle corps in Belleville, IL.

Wearing distinctive black and white uniforms, and possessing a highly precise miltary bearing, the corps quickly gained state and national prominence early on as they won the AmVets National Championship in 1954 and repeated as champions in both 1955 & 1956. The corps continued to rank in the upper echelon nationally from 1956 through 1962.

1956 VFW Nationals - 5th Place
1957 VFW Nationals - 3rd Place
1958 VFW Nationals - 6th Place
1959 VFW Nationals - 2nd Place
1960 VFW Nationals - 6th Place
1961 VFW Nationals - 5th Place
1962 VFW Nationals - 9th Place

The corps returned to the national scene in 1970 when they once again made finals at the VFW Nationals in Miami. In 1972, the corps allowed girls in the color guard and also had one of the strongest horn lines in the country. The horn line went undefeated the majority of the season and, at DCI pre-lims, placed 5th in Brass execution & 7th place in Total Brass. The 1973 season proved to be their most successful year as the corps won both the VFW and American Legion State Championships for the first time and made the finals of every championship competiton they entered.

1970 VFW Nationals - 12th Place
1971 VFW Nationals - 12th Place
1972 DCI Championships - 15th Place
1973 Bluegrass Nationals - 6th Place
1973 US Open Championships - 3rd Place
1973 American International Championships - 3rd Place
1973 DCI Championships - 10th Place
1973 VFW Nationals - 2nd Place
1974 US Open Championships - 6th Place
1974 American International Championships - 6th Place
1974 DCI Championships - 15th Place
1975 Bluegrass Nationals - 2nd Place
1975 DCI Championships - 15th Place

After 1975, the corps struggled with financial problems and entered Class A competitions in the 80's. The corps ceased operations after the 1989 season.

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