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Jazz DiplomacyPromoting America in the Cold War Era$
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Lisa E. Davenport

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781604732689

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604732689.001.0001

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Jazz Means Freedom, 1957–1960

Jazz Means Freedom, 1957–1960

(p.62) Chapter 3 Jazz Means Freedom, 1957–1960
Jazz Diplomacy

Lisa E. Davenport

University Press of Mississippi

Little Rock, Arkansas, was the site of a school desegregation crisis that set off a chain of events at home and abroad, dramatically altering the course of jazz diplomacy and ushering in a new phase in America’s rhetorical approach to Cold War cultural relations. From 1957 to 1960 jazz policy makers, who questioned the efficacy of using black jazz in cultural policy, were not willing to sponsor black jazz musicians in cultural tours. The Soviet Union emerged as the most vocal critic of the incident in Arkansas and promptly intensified anti-American propaganda campaigns, even as debates about race, culture, and the ethos of jazz music heated up in America. The most explosive controversy surrounding Little Rock arose when Louis Armstrong canceled an official State Department tour to the Soviet Union, declaring that “the way they treat my people in the South, the government can go to hell.” This chapter examines how the changing dynamics of the Cold War, race, cultural affairs, and jazz helped illuminate the volatile role that jazz diplomacy played in American cultural policy in 1957–1960.

Keywords:   school desegregation, Little Rock, jazz diplomacy, America, Cold War, cultural policy, Soviet Union, jazz music, Louis Armstrong, race

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