Charles L. Black on Louis Armstrong

I am in the middle of watching Ken Burns’ awesome Jazz DVD Set.  I never realized the importance of Louise Armstrong had in our music and culture:

Charlie Black, a freshman from University of Texas, happened to go see Louis Armstrong at a club in 1931.  He knew nothing of jazz and never heard of Louis Armstrong.

“He played mostly w/ his eyes closed.  Letting flow from that inner space of music things that had never existed.

He was the first genius I’d ever seen. It is impossible to underestimate the significance of a 16 year old southern boy seeing genius for the first time in a black person.

We literally never saw a black man in anything but a servants capacity.

Louis opened my eyes wide and put to me a choice:  Blacks, the saying went, were ‘all right in their place’, but what was the place of such a man, and of the people from which he sprung?’”

Charles L. Black
Excerpt from Ken Burns’ Jazz Documentary

Charles L. Black went on to become a distinguished teacher of Constitutional Law at Yale and in 1954 was on the team of lawyers to convince the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education that segregating school children on the basis of race and color was unconstitutional.



3 responses to “Charles L. Black on Louis Armstrong”

  1. I had a similar “awakening” to Louis Armstrong in 1948 when I skipped school to hear him play in New York.
    His opening solo to “West End Blues” still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *