tv Cold War Jazz Diplomacy in Africa CSPAN August 28, 2017 7:05pm-8:01pm EDT
kindling. >> american history tv is in prime time all week with our original series lectures in history. tonight we're focusing on latino history and the civil rights movement with lectures from colleges and university classrooms around the country. join us tonight in a little under an hour. next, u.s. air force academy instructor jeffrey copeland teaches a class on the american jazz musicians in after ka during the cold war. he argued that the foreign policy was to showcase america in a positive light and counter act the negative global press about u.s.-racial unequality. this class is about 55 minutes. all right, jay. you're up. please get it started. all right. please have a seat. welcome. different class, fun topic.
i hope to have some fun today. >> we talked about the actual wars and fighting and the times when the cold war got a little hot. today we are talking about the cultural cold war perhaps or the war over culture and the fight for influence. so in that context jazz really comes to the forefront. we are thinking about why that guy is running around in the congo and why they are traveling to far flown places of the world like pakistan and south asia. what are they doing there? we'll talk about big ideas. i want to talk about this. who is that?
>> armstrong. >> yes. you were probably hesitant to say. you know who it is. there he is. you can't miss that smile and that gaze. you know, he gives people that gaze when he is talking. probably america's most prominent jazz musician during this whole period. certainly when it starts and also before that. he already toured europe commercially and he was prominent figure but just american culture generally. and so before we get into unpacking this image the reading was from a different book than this. it is kind of extract this part that deal with africa. you got jazz and the cold war in africa. the rest of this book blows up
the world. fabulous book. i recommend it. it is going to talk about what they were doing everywhere in the world and how they fit in in foreign policy agenda and how they perceive their role in the whole thing. so we can turn to this image here. we can probably spend 30 minutes talking about what's going on in this picture here. you probably already noticed the kind of beached lawn share he is riding in. it is improvised litter. he is riding on the shoulders of some native -- or traditionally dressed men. you see, he had been in tour in 1955 -- excuse me, 1960. he came to the french portion of the congo and played for foreign dignitaries and when he crossed over the river and former belgium congo he was treated
like a king. this is how they perceived him to be. they said hey, we are going to carry you on as though you are a king. you can see he enjoyed it thoroughly. it was sponsored by pepsi and pepsi is saying things like hey, you like sachimo. you like pepsi. it was a kind of sponsored tour just not by the state department, but still, his role as jazz ambassador was already well cemented in 1960. so why is he in the congo in the first place? certainly the state department wanted him there. why is congo important? i don't know if you got a sense of this but congo is were rich in minerals and in particular the uranium.
after 1945 it becomes kind of important to national security interests for both the united states and soviet union. right away it becomes the center of attention for the u.s. and soviet union. and more than just that it was in 1959 where belgium said we are giving you that independence. you're going to get your independence next year. as what happened in other parts in africa, when they leave it leaves a power vacuum or at least kind of the availability for other influences orlando beganic leaders to rise up. people sort of organizing political parties and guy who came to the forefront it was just a couple years ago which
kind of tells you he met with sefl war. it is a section of the belgium congo. they wanted to be independent separate from the new state of the congo. and so he is confronted with having to deal with this because they were rich if congo was generally. and so it looks to the united states and says hey, i need your help to kind of bring these guys back to kind of crush this rebellion and bring it into the new state of the congo.
the united states for their part is like i don't know if i really want -- we don't know if we want you to have complete control over that. those are the kinds of ideas that are circulating in terms of the congo. they would have much rather instead of out with his drive to unite the congo. he said it was probably his most fatal flaw. he said you aren't going to help me. let's see if the soviets will help me.
the united states says, oh, threat. it's a threat if this new government is going to sort of align with the soviet union then that's a problem that needs to be rectified when they assassinated him, so i don't really need to know for you to see that kind of conflict into which these african american ambassadors were stepping as kind of the face of the united states in africa, kind of putting the best foot forward even while the united states foreign policy was doing something praps a little bit
less than savory talking about ñ the cold war context. you cannot think about these traveling throughout the world let alone africa without situating that firmly within the cold war. there is other -- context too. there is no surprise that you have african american musicians in africa trying to best face ton united states. there is also context of vietnam which is going rather badly for the united states. the mood has soured about u.s. foreign policy generally.
it put some of these on rather awkward position to feel like they are defending u.s. foreign policy so that's the paradox of this whole thing and context of these jazz ambassadors. it is important to think why are we looking at africa? why not say the middle east? they were doing it too. i think we can look back again and retrace a couple of steps to think about why africa was so
looking through the lens of a couple of these musicians we can start to understand how not only how the state department saw their role in the whole thing but how they perceived their role in this mission of spreading kind of the american image and garnering good will for foreign policy. it adds a strong layer of complexity congress was ticked. many times over these 20 years of having to fund or at least these requests to fund is really complex tours. what did it all amount to? to think about the end of the story we can look back at how some of these jazz musicians were remembering their role. okay. so the context, the cold war, you cannot extricate these. you have goodman. he was one of those big band jazz leaders before world war ii and very popular then. here he is in moscow, red square, 1962. an american in red square in
1962. it should start sending off bells saying oh, why is that happening? why is an american in the heart of the soviet union at what's perceived to be the peak? what's going on on either side? >> you have cuban missile crisis. >> yes. the cold war almost becomes hot. absolutely. it is one of those things. what else, go ahead, rob. >> a culture war? >> yes. this is happening because they agreed to have cultural exchange. you have soviet symphonies to show us what each other was about is what that was intended to do. go ahead. >> you have kind of tieing into the cuban missile crisis this idea of an arms race and nuclear proliferation? >> it is not just arms race but also a space race going on. and sent americans reeling like how can they possibly do that?
then of course not just the space race but the race to the moon was on just as much as the arms race and kind of positioning missiles and other things. absolutely. one thing that may not be as close at hand as some of these other high profile items, you know the fallout of this, you knew about the berlin wall. it is because of this tensions have mounted. u.s. tanks pointed at soviet tanks in east and west berlin. they said okay. we'll build a wall and keep you guys separate. tensions have gotten high. that's in 1961. so literally in the middle of those big events in the cold war you have goodman trying to play his jazz for russians who frankly love the music.
not christian bale fans. i get it. you know, jazz is very popular around the world. but jazz in the soviet union was a little suppressed and we'll get to that in a moment. but that's what's going on in terms of the cold war. also there's the civil rights context. it's no surprise in 1955 the montgomery bus boycott is followed immediately by armstrong trying to go out there and say hey, look how cool america is. look how cool jazz is. look how, you know, how purely american this art form is. you should come along with us, right? there is no surprise you an african american musician
writing to africa on the heels of what has blown up in the face of the eisenhower administration and also of the country. you also have to think about vietnam. by the end of the 1960s, vietnam has become something of a mess for the united states. at the same time you have guys like this 6'8" traveling in northern african fielding questions about how can you be supporting the united states when this is going on across the world? that's the context of all of these jazz musicians. you can't separate them from why the state department was sending them out there. okay. to backtrack a couple of steps, think about why africa? you know why in terms of natural resources and especially the
movement throughout the continent. descending on all of the countries and saying hey, yes, align with us. we'll send you cool stuff. you can be our friend. that's a really simple way of thinking about it. we know why africa and we remember that africa was the contested cold war spaces. it is all of the conflicts throughout the world onward. it includes a lot of civil wars in the 90s and 2000s. you have lots of conflict that were immerging in the cold war. i think this bottom one may be more telling about what the u.s. was doing. this is all cia involvement from
1945 to 1989. these countries shaded in black are places where the cia was operating from 95 to 100% of those years. you can see congo and ethiopia and middle east earn countries, big big big presence for the cia trying to work against this soviet influence. there are these other kind of countries where the cia was operating for a period of time. and so not only did they want to win the war of influence in africa, the u.s. was also worried about losing principally because of civil rights problems they had at home. they were worried they could cause the u.s. to lose that cultural traction and to kind of lose the goodwill for america entirely. so into that the soviet union sends jazz musicians. but really again, why not rock and roll? why not american composers? why jazz? i think we get an idea of this by thinking about the difference between what soviets saw as kind
of high culture in the best kind of musical art forms and what americans thought as you know kind of the new way of thinking about art. so of course the of yets had ma -- soviets had mastered the art of the classical. you know this song, of course. ♪ >> the nutcracker suite. very much not jazz. you hear this every christmas. probably don't need to hear it again but i'm proving a point here okay so stick with me. ♪ >> so the soviet union -- for as stingy as the united states has been the soviet union was kind of very loose with funding the arts. they have funneled lots of money into supporting orchestras and supporting the arts.
>> and so it's very clear the difference between classical and jazz. the state department saw something special in jazz and something they could really use. what is uniquely american? what is so american about jazz music that the state department would say yes, you go out there instead of rock bands or american con posers or other things. what makes jazz american? why, jake? [ inaudible ] >> okay. so it had roots in african cultures. it is something musicians acknowledged but the state department was kind of slow to acknowledge. the state department was kind of like, yeah. you know everybody. this is american music. i think the musicians knew a little different like you're suggesting. the state department's official line was jazz in the woshld because it's american. that's kind of it.
>> rock and roll was too english? >> say again. >> rock and roll was too english? too english? go ahead. >> -- music theory, typical rules for classical to follow. it echoed our freedom and the idea of liberty in the united states, kind of like african could have that freedom. >> now we're really on to something. think about this music and how it's played and this music. it's not structure and no structure. but you think about what these guys are doing when they're playing their music. they're following a score. some composer has written a score and they're not going to deviate from that. these guys, there's a lot of freedom within jazz music in terms of how it's played, what's the basic structure and then how can we work and that basic
structure. so yeah, like sara is saying, jazz, it was very american in the sense that it represented the freedom that america was supposed to represent. the state department saw that and that's what they wanted. that's why jazz. that's why the state department wanted to send these guys out there and say hey, you see this free style of music, that's very similar to the freedom or the freeness of the united states. so you should prefer our model to theirs. no surprise that alo of these musicians were african-americans. and to them in particular, what is an african-american musician seeing. what is freeing about jazz, especially for an african-american playing in after k africa, no less. huh? like how does it represent freedom for an african-american to be a jazz musician playing in africa or pakistan or anywhere
else. go ahead, josh. >> it's kind of freeing because of what's going on in america. also they are traveling the world playing fun music while their brothers and sisters are getting oppressed at home. >> it is such a great point. think of the gillespie band out there, black and white, playing together as an integrated band. they're going out there and experiencing freedom many of their counterparts at home never get to experience. it wasn't lost on then, the novelty of what they were doing just as much as they were saying this whole experience is freedom in its essence. so kind of to tie your two thought as together, not only did jazz represent the freedom of meshness, the actual musicians, they felt the freedom to deviate -- not deviate.
but to agree on the basic structure and to have total freedom around that basic structure of how to express themselves through their music. okay. and then so we understand why jazz but there's a distinction between early jazz and modern jazz and what each represented for the state department and for the people who were hearing these forms throughout the world. here is an example of early jazz. ♪ i guess this is before world war ii. ♪ ♪ you probably recognize that song.
that's duke ellington's orchestra. there he is directing the band playing "take the a train." that and characteristic that are preworld war ii forms of jazz. you envision it being played in the 1920s or 1930s. these big orchestras and that was very characteristic with these early forms of jazz. into the 60s jazz kind of changed a little bit. guys here is a little bit of it. ♪ ♪
so just thinking about music structure you have a time signature but dave, he is working and has all sorts of crazy time signatures seeing this new form of jazz in the places where they were going just as much as africa. so what then is the ability or what -- if you're, you know, an iraqi and you're hearing that kind of music, what's the message that the state department wants you to hear or might be conveyed by that new kind of jazz music? >> you're in different countries so you don't need words. it sounds upbeat. >> it certainly sounds
different. there's a different sound to it. usually it has a lot of pep to it or at least a lot of movement. that's true. >> i think it communicates the idea that we were talking about, this new free form we were talking about, kind of words we were talking about. it is something people are drawn to. >> okay. yeah, the kind of freedom that
represents. if there is still other kinds of forms of expressions, but, you know, if this is -- to contrast the classical music to -- or to jazz generally to think about early jazz to modern jazz this especially had a lot of relevance and potential let's agree on kind of a basic melody. we are all doing pretty awesome stuff and it is really really really a big key factor too, the freedom jazz is supposed to represent. it wasn't lost on the state department. it certainly wasn't lost on the people hearing it throughout the world and particularly africa. so we are talking about the state department. the big question is why did it start to begin with?
in 1954 president eisenhower discovered he had something of a race problem on his hands. it was no secret america had tarnished the image of america in the world. a lot of people saying you guys have got problems domestically. really it's no coincidence gillespie's tour of all of those places, south europe, middle east and south asia got approved the same month. civil rights is tipped off at the same time saying yes, we need those guys to go to africa to kind of put a good face on the united states because our image has been tarnished at home. it tipped off two decades of state department sponsored jazz tours. and then right away you can see kind of the integrated nature of the band. you have basses, drummers,
saxophonists, you know, traveling together and living together. that's the kind of image the state department wanted to put forward. they wanted to say hey, look, this is what we are. not the stuff you hear about back at home. this is the image of america they wanted to portray, a positive image of everyone getting along together. lots of state department motivation. we are see that they had rather different reasons for going along with this thing.
they knew that they were being sent by the state didn't to garner good will, but you can tell what they wanted first and foremost was a chance to play. that's what they wanted to do. these guys, they knew very clearly that this was something that would have been literally impossible as a commercial tour. even with the state department sponsorship and money it was almost impossible to get a decent piano let alone one that was in tune. the tale on this whole thing is enormous. so they knew that this was something that they were never,
ever, ever going to get to do besides. they saw this as validation of not only their art form but americans. african-americans for whom jazz had been sidelined as lowbrow kind of culture and then suddenly the state department says we want you to go and be our ambassadors in the world. and they go finally someone gets it, someone appreciates jazz for being great music and a great art form and they appreciate me, an african-american, for being, you know, capable of being that face for the united states in the world. and on top of all that as these cured develop and these guys spend some time in africa they start connecting the dots between the jazz they had grown up knowing in the united states and the roots of jazz in african music and in african cultures. so already as soon as these tours start you start seeing these kind of diverging motivations for both the state department and the musicians they were sponsoring. so looking through the lens of a couple of these musicians we can kind of get a more -- a better sense of the complexity that they brought to the table. the state department would have been happy with these guys going out there saying jazz is awesome, america is great, but the musicians weren't willing to rest on that alone and the state department didn't foresee the connections they would make with
their roots. louis armstrong. his first trip to ghana in 1956. first time in africa. he had traveled on a commercial tour in europe a decade before but in 1956 louis armstrong goes to africa for the first time. and he's playing for the ghanaian people, with his band. and in the crowd he sees a woman, a ghanaian woman who looks just like his mom. his mom had died 20 years before and he sees this woman and in the middle of a song louis armstrong stops playing and he goes over to her and with this ghanaian woman that looks just like his mom in front of him he says to the crowd, "i came here" -- or "i came from here way back, at least my people did. now i know that this is my country too." from that very first interaction of louis armstrong and one of these african-american musicians, this was characteristic of several of the other ones too. making the connection between their roots not only as musicians but also as people. i came from here. i know this is my country, too. feeling that identity. feeling that connection. louis armstrong after his tour
of europe and his other tours in the 1940s had been acknowledged as ambassador satchmo. he was the perfect ambassador because here was a guy who could transcend borders, transcend cultural boundaries, he could kind of play in all circles. and not just crossing boundaries like a national boundary going from europe to africa but crossing cultural boundaries. here's a man that's one of the most prominent cultural figures in the united states who was -- had grown accustomed in jim crow america to behaving a certain way in white circles and then back at home with his family.
so he had already grown accustomed to crossing those different boundaries. and that's just one example. there's another example of him crossing actual borders. in 1955 before he went to ghana he was in east berlin with his band. he had gotten approval for him to be there from the soviets. i mean, he had soviet papers to be in east germany and in east berlin. it was late one night. east berlin had shut down basically for the night. it wasn't a place that was hopping exactly. and louis armstrong says to his guys, hey, i hear west berlin's hopping, let's go over there. and his guys are looking at him like we can't do that, we've got soviet papers, you can't just walk over there. and he just insisted, let's try it. so he took the bus to checkpoint charlie and they walk up to the soviet guards and the soviet guards start getting guns out and stuff. like whoa, whoa, what are you guys doing? and as soon as one of the guards saw louis armstrong he said it, he's like "louis armstrong." a russian guard who probably didn't speak any english knew who louis armstrong was. he calls his other guard buddies over and they're taking pictures and getting autographs. and they send them across the bridge over to the american side at checkpoint charlie. they get to the american side and the american guard as one of his band members was telling is, is like this big guy from texas, 6'7", this really imposing
figure but as soon as that guy, that sergeant saw louis armstrong he said hey, it's satchmo, it's satchmo. and the same thing that had happened on the russian side happened on the american side where louis armstrong because of his cultural relevance, his standing as a cultural icon he was able to transcend not only the boundary between east and west berlin but also that kind of legal boundaries in many ways. when the american ambassador heard about this he said how'd you do that? i can't even do that. i can't even just walk back and forth. but louis armstrong because of his relevance was able to just march back and forth with his men for the time that he was in east berlin. that's the kind of ability that this kind of cultural power held for these musicians. then with that clout louis armstrong in 1957 was actually slated to go on a state department tour. here he was as a musician ready to kind of partake in that culmination of his career and that stamp of approval by the
state department. but in 1957 when the central high school in little rock has that order, we're going to desegregate, and the governor says no and the president's slow to drag his feet -- or slow to take action. he drags his feet on the whole issue. louis armstrong says i'm not going, i'm not going on your tour. in 1957 he could say stuff like a colored man has no country. these are the kinds of things he could say as louis armstrong in 1957 that even ten years before maybe even he couldn't say. certainly your average african-american couldn't say that kind of stuff. so that's the kind of clout he could have not only in the world but also in american culture, to be able to say stuff like the government can go to hell. that's another thing he said. talking about this treatment of african-americans at home. here he is absolutely just saying i'm not going on your tour, i'm not going out there and telling everyone america's awesome when you're doing this
to african-americans at home. that's what louis armstrong could do. and that's that deep meaning that these tours had for him despite the kind of images that the public perception had of him. they kind of crafted him as this simpleton not thinking deeply about either his role in things or his music. but you can see already that he had a rather deep and complex understanding of what he was doing. so this is what he wanted to do. he wanted to play for the people. he didn't want to be out there playing for ambassadors and their wives and things. he wanted to be playing with the people, for the people, all throughout the world. and there he is in egypt doing just that. dizzy gillespie, whose music you heard earlier, turns out he was a little more democratic than even the state department. the state department is out there saying this is the image of american democracy, this is why.
this integrated band. this is why you guys should like america instead of the soviet way of life. but dizzy gillespie, as he's playing concerts all throughout that tour of south asia and all these other places, he's looking out at the crowd and saying all we're playing for are american diplomats and their families, and their spouses. he even said something to the effect of why are we playing for the choir? and so he insisted and demanded that they open the gates to all the people who were outside wanting to come in. he described them as the ragamuffin children. he said let the ragamuffin children come in, because they need to hear this music too. >> it's that kind of insistence and assertion of his authority as the leading figure on this tour that the state department after he got back said maybe we'll go with benny goodman next time, someone who'll be a little more willing to say some kinder things about the u.s. so he didn't go on another state department tour for another 14 years. but when he did, in 1973 -- in
the interim he didn't actually run for president, this is kind of a bit of a joke, but it speaks to his cultural traction that he had gained as a result of his tour and his prominence as a jazz musician, but in the interim, in that 14 years, he was fighting for civil rights, fighting for equal protection und your the law, fighting for those things he was fighting for even on that first tour and thereafter. and in that time he had also become a convert and devout believer in the bahai faith and kind of changed his way of thinking about america to the extent that in 1973, when he was in kenya playing for a kenyan audience he said this. to the kenyans in the concert, he says, "this is the culmination not only of my professional activities but of my human relationships. to come to kenya, to perform for you, because i think of you as my people." in other words, this is the best thing i have ever done as a jazz musician, as a human being, is to come to kenya and perform for
you because you are my people. here's dizzy gillespie, having toured just really once. experiencing that african culture just that one time. he realized that that -- those are my roots, that's my heritage and that's the meaning that the state department couldn't even have envisioned when they were first sending these guys out there. next up, to think about duke ellington. now, in contrast to satch and to dizzy, duke ellington was something of a different kind of ambassador. i mean, he was the elder statesman of this bunch. he was born in 1899. he's basically an old man when he's doing a lot of these tours. and he'd kind of had these middle-class airs about him. he had been raised in a little bit better scenario in the united states than some of his other black counterparts on these tours. so the state department considered him this model ambassador. yet even he despite this kind of distinction, he was the only registered -- or one of the only registered republicans among all of these musicians. he was a very -- of a very
different stamp from these musicians but even he saw the connection of his jazz as an american art form with african roots. even he saw that. and he saw that connection with the people as he traveled in africa as well. and so he, as kind of that old guard, saw the united states and their mission in the world and this mission to spread american democracy or american idealism, he saw that as noble and he was happy to partake of it despite the contradictions. despite the contradictions in him going to africa to kind of promulgate these ideas. and he was so proud of it that in 1971, after his 72nd birthday, he got even busier. and when the united states kind of wrote off africa in terms of these cultural tours they sent him off to central america and down to brazil. he was touring well into the 1970s as basically an old man, out there doing what he perceived to be the important mission of the united states in the world.
so we can think about effectiveness now. we kind of can see through their lens. see through their eyes what they -- what these musicians, you know, saw as distinct from what the state department saw. . so, you know, for 20 years these guys are out there traveling the world. the state department was spending lots and lots of money, much to the consternation of congress often. so we can think about, was it effective? did they really do anything after all? what do you think? what's the effectiveness of this? go ahead, chris. >> so even now like even in the drc there's, i don't know, millions of internally displaced people, so democracy never took hold there. there's still countries like that where i feel like we failed to, i guess, bring our ideas to that. we tried to originally in this. >> great point. if you think about africa today, if you think about the map i showed earlier with all of the area also of conflict, many of
which are not cold war conflicts but later conflicts, that gains a special traction here. to kind of piggy back on your point, chris, a map in 1970, and put your eyes on this, blue and green are at least american alignment and red and pink are bad in terms of soviet alignment. that's 1970. you look at the mab in 1980, a few things have changed. not a lot actually. most of northern africa, you can see it is kind of -- you can see it is pink, but a little bit different. in particular, an gogola in 197 was u.s. involvement, same with mozambique, by 1980 the united states lost both of those countries and the influence to the soviets and to the marxist governments. similar story. the united states lost ethiopia to the soviets even though they had gained somalia in terms of influence, and had regained
egypt back. but if you're thinking about kind of, you know, the impact and the effect of this whole thing, at best, you know, thinking about who won the cold war in africa, at best it was a draw. really at best, it was a draw. at worst, you think about who traditionally wins a battle, well, it is the one who keeps the territory when it is all over, and the united states at least diplomatically turned its focus away from africa after 1975 and to other parts of the world, specifically central america. maybe winning isn't really the reasonable measurement for measuring these guys' effectiveness in being state department jazz ambassadors to africa and other parts of the world. i think the question really becomes why. you know, as these tours went on over 20 years, they became more and more privy to what their role was in the whole thing, what they were trying to do or what the state department wanted them to do. despite all of those contradictions, they were still out there playing. the question is why? why? i throw it to you.
go ahead, jay. >> i definitely think it was like their only opportunity to play outside of the country. like you said, they wouldn't have the chance if they were, like, staying inside american facing the racism and segregation, so it was a really good opportunity for them. >> yeah, i mean a big part of this whole story is the way that the -- you know, the state department took this image of jazz as kind of this kind of back water, low brow art form and turned it on its head and said, no, this is appropriate competition for that -- those highest forms of art, the classical -- you know, soviet classical music and all of that stuff. this is proper competition for that. so they wanted to get into that. despite the contradictions they're like, yes, finally some acknowledgement of our music as really proper -- a proper art form. what else? why did they keep doing this despite the contradictions? go ahead. >> i think you talked a little bit about how it is about connecting with your roots. i think we talked about, and i think if they felt that when they were doing this, then to be
able to continue to interact with that and to have that experience i think would have been something that they would have taken this -- you know, their position and still have continued to play the role essentially because they get that connection. >> okay. yeah, that's a great point. to keep connecting with their roots. they felt that connection and they wanted to indulge that even more, and absolutely that's one reason they kept going despite the contradictions, and that's a really good point to segue us to thinking about the end ofst story. on one hand you have duke ellington, old guard, born in 1899. you know, duke ellington, part of the old stamp that said, hey, let's run in the circles that we're given and not try to up end the whole system and work with what we've got and trust those in power are kind of working, at least have our best interests in mind. if you have seen "the butler" it is an example of him telling his
son, work with the system, the system will work with you, and the son thinks he's crazy. duke ellington is like forest whitaker's character, saying, hey, let's work with the system, the system will work for us if we're patient. for his part when in 1969 president nixon, for all of the back treading or back pedaling the nixon administration did on civil rights issues, nixon himself was a musician and a fan of jazz. so nixon realized that duke ellington had been the foremost ambassador out all of these guys, and duke ellington deserved this highest award a civilian in the united states can win, this presidential medal of freedom. so for duke ellington standing there with the president receiving this award, that was validation of years and years and decades really of work, both as a musician but also as an african-american man working for equal rights and for civil rights. so that's how he perceived this. you know, willing to work within
official established channels, not willing, you know, necessarily to speak out radically against the united states or to upend the system, but to work within the channels he was given. that's one way of thinking about kind of the old guard of these jazz musicians. randy weston was kind of on the opposite end of that thing. he's 26 years younger than duke ellington, so, you know, he's really a whole generation removed. for his part, in the same year that duke ellington received this presidential medal of freedom, randy weston opens a club in morocco, his own jazz club, because after touring northern africa in the mid '60s, he stayed. he stayed in morocco in 1967 and then actually lived in morocco for several years after this before returning to the united states. you can see both by hi garb, but also if you were to look up hills music randy weston when he continued to make music incorporated the african element also of rhythm and the congas
and those kind of unique rhythms to africa into the jazz. you get that fusion in his music, so not only identity but straight-up moving there. that's a different perspective than what duke ellington and the old guard guys kind of had on the whole thing. so as a final note, for their part the state department realized only too late that, you know, what they had started out with in the 1950s of this sort of can-do attitude on foreign policy, that the u.s. can go out there in the world and shape the world how we wanted it, that had changed by the mid 1970s. that foreign policy had started to become something more like american politics at home, a little tired, a little bit depressed, a little bit mixed up, i guess. so what the state department realized only too late -- i mean only as they were cashiering this whole program of these jazz ambassadors, they realized that
american is better employed in the world as an idea than it is as an identity and a nationality. so sending these guys out there in the world and saying, this is an american and this is what america represents, instead saying -- excuse me. saying, this is an american and you can see how, you know, this guy has been made great because of america, instead of that they realized only too late they should have said america is a great idea and these guys are a representation of that idea. so that is all i've got. so i will see you all on thursday. all right. so there's another reading on my chair point, so do that and have a good one. see ya'. you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where all our video is archived. that's c-span.org/history.
and this might be the only government class you ever take. you're going to be a voter forever. you're going to be a juror forever, so i need to give you tools that are going to help you for the rest of your life in those pursuits do them well. >> tuesday night at 8:00 eastern, high school teachers william camps and sunshine comaluzzi discuss how current events effect their lessons. >> their story doesn't begin the moment they're born. it starts with people who have come long before them, who shaped the world around them they were born into operates. if they realize, wait a minute, it doesn't start and end with me but what i contribute and where i'm coming from, it is all part of this bigger story. so in that way, allowing them then to take in other people's opinions, take in the perspectives of others through social media but also through video, it gives them a chance to really be able to think, okay, this is how i see the world but
why do i see the world this way? how can i maybe expand that a little bit by taking in other people's perspective also. >> tuesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org and listen using the free c-span radio app. american history tv is in prime time all week with our original series "lectures in history," with discussions from colleges and university classrooms around the country. next, latino history and the civil rights movement. we start with university of california san diego professor luis alvarez who teaches a class about the 1943 zoot suit riots in los angeles. he described how they came to symbol i symbolize a challenge to racial identities. this is about an hour and a half. >> all right. so let me just remind you where we are in our ongoing narrative of mexican/american history.