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R.B. Hudson choir from 1965 reuniting

By Oniska Blevins | The Selma Times-Journal

During a time of racial tension throughout the south, the predominantly African American 1965 choir of R.B. Hudson High School, now R.B. Hudson Middle School, traveled around the nation singing about God.

The former choir director, Perry L. Anderson, pushed his students to step outside the box and “broaden their scope” by teaching them choral, Latin and German music along with traditional gospel music. His legacy will be honored this Saturday during the choir’s second reunion.

The reunion will be held at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 3. During the program, the current R.B. Hudson Middle School Choir will perform.

“We are happy to have them participate,” former choir member Clarence Mann said.

Mann said the reunion is a way to see old friends. He said many of them have not seen one another since the 1960s and this is their time to catch up and reunite. “Students who have not seen each other since that time are eager to participate,” he said.

Mann said even though this is a reunion of the 1965 choir, all former Hudson choir members are welcome to join.

By often performing in front of white audiences in the 60s, the choir had a hand in breaking racial barriers, Mann said.

“Music was, and I guess still is, a universal language,” he said.

The choir began touring around the nation performing songs of unity and triumph.

Mann said the love of music and their involvement in history made the members work harder to achieve greatness.

“It seemed to provide the strength and the energy to motivate participants as well as non-participants,” Mann said.

Mann said the choir experienced racism first hand on a stop in Mississippi during their tour. He said the local depot would not serve them until after their choir director, Mr. Anderson, made a phone call to headquarters.

Mann said he and some of the members participated in the initial attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery on March 5, 1965, in support of African Americans’ right to vote.

This day later became known as “Bloody Sunday” because of the amount of violence shown towards marchers.

This weekend, the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee commemorates Bloody Sunday and Mann said they chose to have their reunion on this historic weekend because of what it represents.

“Because of the relationship and the impact of the Civil Rights Movement in our lives and the relationship the choir had to the Civil Rights Movement, we felt there was no better time to have a reunion than during the Bridge Crossing Jubilee,” he said.