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African Americans in U.S. Foreign PolicyFrom the Era of Frederick Douglass to the Age of Obama$
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Linda Heywood, Allison Blakely, Charles Stith, and Joshua C. Yesnowitz

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038877

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038877.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

The Paradox of Jazz Diplomacy

The Paradox of Jazz Diplomacy

Race and Culture in the Cold War

(p.140) 7 The Paradox of Jazz Diplomacy
African Americans in U.S. Foreign Policy

Lisa Davenport

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on the jazz tours that began in July 1954, which were sponsored by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The jazz tours created a paradox in U.S. Cold War strategy. The cultural expression of one of the nation's most oppressed minorities came to symbolize the cultural superiority of American democracy. Policy makers considered jazz, the “authentic expression of American life,” to be an apt instrument in U.S. efforts to contain criticism about America's cultural and racial identity. The tours were suspended in the early 1960s when volatile racial conflicts in urban America and the Vietnam War no longer made them viable. These were reinstated in the late 1960s, but with more conservative jazz musicians. The chapter also examines the “moral tension” experienced by jazz performers over whether to “affirm their heritage by struggling against racial oppression or seek acceptance into white society.”

Keywords:   jazz tours, State Department, diplomacy, jazz musicians, African Americans, American democracy, racial oppression

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