The Original Jazz Ambassadors
Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and Louie Armstrong, in 1955 when Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. Jr. convinced U.S. leaders to use jazz to intervene in the Cold War conflict against communism. The original jazz ambassadors succeeded in using jazz to help bring peace & introduce democracy in communist countries while experiencing the hardships of urban renewal, racial & economic discrimination and Jim Crow segregation in America.
The New York Times claimed America's best Cold War weapon was "a blue note in a minor key," but jazz musicians also faced the challenge of how to respond to questions about their country's racist policies. Many musicians freely traveled abroad, but faced Jim Crow segregation and inequality at home.