Louis Armstrong And The Discrimination In His Career

Louis Armstrong was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and composer. He was a New Orleans native and was well-known in the 1920s. His most memorable hits include “What is the world?” Louis’ childhood was difficult due to a divorced father and prostitution-loving mother. In his youth, he was sent to Colored Waifs Home for Boys after he was caught firing a firearm in the streets during a New year’s Eve celebration. He received music instruction on the cornet there and became a fan of music. He was released by the home in 1914 and immediately dreamed of a career as a musician. King Oliver called him in the summer 1922 to invite him to Chicago to join his Creole Jazz Band as second cornet. On April 5, 1923, Oliver called him to record his first solo album on ‘Chimes Blues. He was a jazz legend, but he still faced discrimination as he was black. He had employment problems, was denied performance opportunities and was not treated equally. He also faced issues touring with hotels and discrimination in criminal justice.

Armstrong was a well-known celebrity who traveled extensively. However, he had issues staying in certain hotels. Armstrong would not perform in hotels during daytime as he could not stay over night because the hotels were restricted to whites. He was also denied the use of a restaurant’s bathroom facilities. Armstrong got into trouble with the criminal justice process in 1931 after he was caught sitting on a bus next to his manager, a woman of color. Armstrong and his band were put in jail after police shouted that there was a shortage of cotton pickers. Armstrong was released by his manager and allowed to perform his show that evening. Armstrong performed a song in support of the local police. He instructed the band members to sing “I’ll Feel Glad When You’re DEAD, You Old Rascals,” but they were surprised when the police actually thanked them. Except for his African-American bandmates, nobody understood his joke. Louis was performing at a Tennessee concert when someone accidentally exploded dynamite. Louis quit King Oliver’s band because he was not paid enough. Sammy Steward met him and helped him find another band. Steward rejected Louis’s application due to his dark skin. This type of discrimination was used against black musicians. Armstrong was subservient in speaking out against racism, segregation. He refused to march with the crowds, even though everyone wanted him there. He was given the nickname “Uncle Tom” for this action. However, in 1957, he furiously criticized President Eisenhower’s segregation policies when a group called “Little Rock Nine”, a group made up of black students, were denied admission to an all-white highschool. Armstrong said, “The South is treating my people, the government can go into hell.” He further stated that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had been “two-faced” in his refusal to intervene and that he would not take part in any U.S.-sponsored Soviet Union tour. Armstrong’s shows were then boycotted by whites. Armstrong grew up during a time when Blacks had to play dumb and hide their deepest thoughts to survive. This was the way Jazz musicians acted. Miles Davis was a well-known Bebop player at that time. He was a white man who dated and even shaved his hair. Miles said in his autobiography that Louis was a “clown” and he didn’t like the way he grin on stage. Beboppers thought this was “cool” and resented it. Louis Armstrong refused a White House invitation in 1969. It was an attempt to convince Blacks of the nonexistence of post-civil rights America. He was not a Tom. Instead, he became a hero and triumphant, going boldly in places that no black performer had gone before.

Armstrong didn’t let hate or discrimination stop him from making music. Armstrong thanked the Colored Waifs Home for boys for helping him to discover his passion for music. He knew that he would spend his entire life performing and learning music. Although he faced racism at times during his career, he didn’t let it stop him. Louis Armstrong, despite being called Uncle Tom, was a passionate, dedicated, brave, courageous, skilled, talented and wise Jazz trumpeter. His racism, which included being denied performance opportunities, discrimination in prison, unfair treatment, touring problems with hotels, and employment issues, helped him rise to fame and be a great Jazz player. Works referenced

The two phrases essentially mean the same thing.

Biography.com Editors Louis Armstrong Biography A&E Television Networks April 2, 2014 Accessed12 November 2019 Web https://www.biography.com/musician/louis-armstrong

Discrimination of African Americans from the perspective of black jazz musicians at the turn of the 20th century Google sites Accessed 12 November 2019 https://sites.google.com/site/discriminationofjazzmusicians/3-1-louis-armstrong

Burks, Arnold Louis Armstrong, white women, and Uncle Toms Medium 21 May 2018 Accessed 12 November 2019 Web https://medium.com/@ArnoldBurks/louis-armstrong-white-women-and-uncle-toms-916fd1981fad

Andrews, Evan 9 things you may not know about Louis Armstrong A&E Television Networks, 22 August 2018 Accessed 12 November 2019 Web https://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-louis-armstrong

Schwartz, Ben What Louis Armstrong really thinks The New Yorker 25 February 2914 Accessed 12 November 2019 Web https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/what-louis-armstrong-really-thinks

Mcnally, Owen Louis Armstrong in the context of his time Courant 27 July 1997 Accessed 12 November 2019 Web https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-1997-07-27-9707230098-story.html


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    Tenley Lancaster is a 34-year-old educational blogger and student. She enjoys writing about topics related to education, including but not limited to student motivation, learning styles, and effective study techniques. Tenley has also written for various websites and magazines, and is currently working on her first book. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.