LSU Gospel Choir Reunites as Part of A.P. Tureaud Sr. Black Alumni Chapter Reunion Weekend
BATON ROUGE – The A. P. Tureaud Sr., Black Alumni Chapter of the LSU Alumni Association held its annual reunion weekend Sept. 6-7, featuring numerous events to both welcome back chapter members as well as to celebrate the impact of African-American students on the history of LSU.
The weekend was highlighted by “Here’s to You, Mr, Tureaud,” a special event held in the Manship Theatre on Sept. 6 which featured the first reunion of the LSU Gospel Choir.
The Gospel Choir reunion was the centerpiece of a production highlighting the history of African-American students at LSU from the 1950s to current times and chronicling LSU’s integration following successful suits filed by A. P. Tureaud Sr., the chapter’s namesake, on behalf of black students seeking admission to LSU.
In addition to saluting the legacy of Tureaud, a New Orleans-based lawyer, the production acknowledged firsts in African-American achievements at the university, as presenters and performers helped capture history through song, dance, stepping, orations, multi-media presentations and a mass toast.
The production also honored Everrett Parker, the well-known musical director, musician and singer in the Baton Rouge community who directed the LSU Gospel Choir for most of its history since the ensemble was founded in the late 1970s. Alumni from the Gospel Choir and the LSU community were also involved in the recognition of Parker, who retired from the university in May.
“Over the course of time, I came to realize that the LSU Gospel Choir is not just an organization, but a living organism with a personality, heart and soul, as well as emotional, social and musical sinews that set it apart and make it unique,” Parker said during the production.
Although the Gospel Choir and the related course are part of the LSU School of Music, its members are drawn from all academic disciplines, and membership is open to all majors, undergraduate and graduate students. Over the years, the Gospel Choir has become a way for students from across the campus to meet each other, share their culture with the campus.
Laurence Hebert, who was named the new Gospel Choir director upon Parker’s retirement, said that the weekend of events marks a new beginning for the choir.
“I feel that Mr. Parker, in a way, passed the torch along to me and, at the same time, a new generation,” Hebert said prior to the Sept. 6 production. “He’s the only Gospel Choir teacher the school has ever known. It’s a changing of the guard but, at the same time, it’s a coming home.”
Hebert said the choir shares a family mentality, welcoming those who sang during their time at LSU to return.
“This is one of the few classes you can take at LSU where, even after you leave, you’re still compelled to come back,” he said. “We’ve built a family unit here.”
The production was written by LSU alumni Rachel L. Emanuel, Jacquee Minor, Faye Hinton, Mari Kornhauser and Ayan Rubin, and was directed by LSU Theatre Professor Femi Euba.
Participants in the production included:
• Maxine Crump, the first African-American female to live in an LSU dormitory;
• Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Class of 1976 and former LSU SGA president;
• Jim Engster, Class of 1981 and host of “The Jim Engster Show;”
• Gaines Foster, dean of the LSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences;
• Carolyn Collins, Class of 2002 and the first African-American LSU dean;
• Donald Cravins, Class of 1994 and a former state legislator and chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu;
• Renee Boutee-Meyer, Class of 1992 and LSU’s first African-American Homecoming Queen;
• East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden, Class of 1982 and the first African-American mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish;
• African-American former LSU athletes, including Durand “Rudy” Macklin, Dr. John S. Butler and Collis Temple Jr., who was joined on stage by his sons, former LSU basketball standouts Collis Jr. and Garret.
The weekend’s events also included a welcoming party on Sept. 6 and tailgate party prior to the LSU Tigers’ home football game versus the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Sept. 7 in Tiger Stadium.
About LSU A.P. Tureaud Sr. Black Alumni Chapter
Almost 40 years after helping to integrate LSU, the civil rights lawyer who successfully represented the first black student who sought enrollment was honored by a new chapter of the LSU Alumni Association. The Alexander Pierre Tureaud, Sr., Chapter, established by black alumni during their first reunion in November 1988, was named, by unanimous vote, for the late civil rights attorney from New Orleans. The chapter officially joined the LSU Alumni Association when the association’s board of directors met in March of 1989. In a letter dated in July of that year, the association president, on behalf of the board, welcomed the Tureaud Chapter into the LSU association. For the next 13 years, the chapter encouraged active participation in both the chapter and the LSU Alumni Association. Unlike other chapters of the association, the Tureaud Chapter’s dues structure has always provided for dual membership in both the chapter and in the Association. Initial committees were formed to design activities and programs that would increase the number of black students, administrators, faculty and staff at LSU. Additionally, programs were developed to improve their quality of life and working conditions on the campus. A newsletter, “Alumni Triumphs,” was started to communicate the Tureaud Chapter’s goals and objectives, and promote its members and activities. After six years of inactivity, the A.P. Tureaud, Sr., Chapter of the LSU Alumni Association was reconstituted as the A. P. Tureaud, Sr., Black Alumni Chapter.
Today, chapter activities, programs, and recognitions include the annual LSU Legends Awards and Legends Forum, student and alumni receptions, student scholarships, the A. P. Tureaud Milestone Awards, offering support in awarding an honorary degree to A. P. Tureaud, Jr. general support to LSU programs and initiatives to meet diversity goals and holding reunion events. To learn more about LSU’s A.P. Tureaud Sr. Black Alumni Chapter, visit www.lsublackalumni.com, or follow the group on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Contact Aaron Looney
LSU Media Relations