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Jazz Diplomacy at Home and Abroad, 1954–1957

Jazz Diplomacy at Home and Abroad, 1954–1957

(p.38) Chapter 2 Jazz Diplomacy at Home and Abroad, 1954–1957
Jazz Diplomacy
Lisa E. Davenport
University Press of Mississippi

As anti-Communist fervor intensified in the mid-1950s due to the pervasive tyranny of the Soviet Union, racial oppression in America persisted despite efforts to buttress the image of American democracy. To confront the looming dilemma of race, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had to adopt a new approach to foreign policy. As a result, he helped lay the foundations for a global jazz diplomacy after asking Congress to allocate funds for Cold War cultural exchange. In August 1954 the U.S. Congress responded by authorizing the President’s Emergency Fund for Participation in International Affairs. This fund was granted permanent status through the International Cultural Exchange and Trade Fair Participation Act of 1956, and became known as the Cultural Presentations Program. Jazz diplomacy thus became an instrument that heightened an appreciation of the multilayered cultural nuances of American life. Jazz music, with its aesthetic appeal, was embraced by many as it helped improve the image of America’s racial dilemma in the global arena.

Keywords:   jazz music, America, race, Dwight D. Eisenhower, foreign policy, Soviet Union, jazz diplomacy, Cold War, cultural exchange, Cultural Presentations Program

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