In this 5-minute documentary short, the late Robert Honeysucker (1943–2017) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a professional baritone singer and teacher well known in Boston’s classical music scene, and Nicholas Bosanquet, a distinguished health economist in London, recall their youthful attempt to desegregate a concert by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London in Jackson, Mississippi, on November 1, 1963, their subsequent arrest, and the ensuing international uproar that inspired prominent musicians to boycott performances before segregated audiences in the US and South Africa. Following a formal protest to the President of the United States from student members of Cambridge Union, charges against Honeysucker and Bosanquet were dropped. The film contains footage not seen since 1963 of Sir Malcolm Sargent and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing in Boston’s Symphony Hall several weeks before the incident in Jackson, which was broadcast nationally one week after the incident, a little more than two weeks before the assassination of JFK. Honeysucker gives contrast to the dramatic music of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Benjamin Britten’s “Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell”) with his singing of several civil-rights-era marching songs in his deep, rich baritone voice.
Robert E. Honeysucker, Jr., (1943–2017), was born in Memphis, the son of an Episcopalian minister. About growing up in small towns in western Tennessee, where his father preached, he recalled, “In those towns I learned the key to the apartheid state that was the South. While I was never told to kowtow, I was always admonished not to confront, not to appear defiant, less I face the white man’s wrath.”
Directed by Charles Kaufmann (USA)