Little Rock Look Back: Satchmo Criticizes Ike over Little Rock

As the Civil Rights movement started taking hold in the mid-1950s, many African American entertainers were vocal in their support.  Louis Armstrong generally stayed silent.  Until, that is, September 17, 1957.

That night, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Armstrong blasted President Dwight Eisenhower for his lack of action to make Governor Orval Faubus obey the law.  This was in an interview conducted by a 21 year old University of North Dakota journalism student named Larry Lubenow.

Journalist David Margolick wrote about the incident in The New York Times in September 2007 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School.  He recounted how the story, written for the Grand Forks Herald, was picked up all over the country.  The entire Margolick piece can be read here.  Margolick tells that when Armstrong was given the chance to back off the comments, he asserted that he meant all of it.

On September 24, 1957, the night that the 101st Airborne was being mobilized to come into Little Rock, Armstrong sent Eisenhower a telegram again criticizing him for lack of action. (It appears this was sent by Armstrong without knowledge of the President’s plans for intervention.) Armstrong used colorful language which sarcastically spoofed the “Uncle Tom” moniker which some of his critics had bestowed when they felt he was not doing enough for Civil Rights.  The Eisenhower Presidential Library has a copy of that telegram.

The incident between Satchmo and Ike was the basis for two different plays: Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf and Ishmael Reed’s The C Above C Above High C.

Little Rock Look Back: Louis Armstrong speaks out

As the Civil Rights movement started taking hold in the mid-1950s, many African American entertainers were vocal in their support.  Louis Armstrong stayed silent.  Until, that is, September 17, 1957.

That night, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Armstrong blasted President Dwight Eisenhower for his lack of action to make Governor Orval Faubus obey the law.  This was in an interview conducted by a 21 year old University of North Dakota journalism student named Larry Lubenow.

Journalist David Margolick wrote about the incident in The New York Times in September 2007 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School.  He recounted how the story, written for the Grand Forks Herald, was picked up all over the country.  The entire Margolick piece can be read here.  Margolick tells that when Armstrong was given the chance to back off the comments, he asserted that he meant all of it.

On September 24, 1957, the night that the 101st Airborne was being mobilized to come into Little Rock, Armstrong sent Eisenhower a telegram again criticizing him for lack of action.  He used colorful language which sarcastically spoofed the “Uncle Tom” moniker which some of his critics had bestowed when they felt he was not doing enough for Civil Rights.  The Eisenhower Presidential Library has a copy of that telegram.  The incident between Satchmo and Ike was the basis for two different plays: Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf and Ishmael Reed’s The C Above C Above High C.

Black History Month – Louis Armstrong and Robinson Center

louis-armstrong3Louis Armstrong played Robinson Auditorium several times during his career.  He also played other venues in Little Rock.

As the Civil Rights movement started taking hold in the mid-1950s, many African American entertainers were vocal in their support.  Armstrong stayed silent.  Until, that is, September 17, 1957.  That night, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, he blasted President Dwight Eisenhower for his lack of action to make Governor Orval Faubus obey the law.  This was in an interview conducted by a 21 year old University of North Dakota journalism student named Larry Lubenow.

Journalist David Margolick wrote about the incident in The New York Times in September 2007 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School.  He recounted how the story, written for the Grand Forks Herald, was picked up all over the country.  The entire Margolick piece can be read here.  Margolick tells that when Armstrong was given the chance to back off the comments, he asserted that he meant all of it.

On September 24, 1957, the night that the 101st Airborne was being mobilized to come into Little Rock, Armstrong sent Eisenhower a telegram again criticizing him for lack of action.  He used colorful language which sarcastically spoofed the “Uncle Tom” moniker which some of his critics had bestowed when they felt he was not doing enough for Civil Rights.  The Eisenhower Presidential Library has a copy of that telegram.  The incident between Satchmo and Ike was the basis for two different plays: Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf and Ishmael Reed’s The C Above C Above High C.

Armstrong would again play a part in Little Rock’s Civil Rights history.  In September 1966, he played the first major concert in Robinson Auditorium that was before a fully integrated audience.  Since the early 1960s, there had been a few sporadic concerts which had been before integrated audiences. But the policy of the Auditorium Commission remained that the building was to be segregated.  Following the approval of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, public facilities had to be integrated. Louis Armstrong played before a full house at Robinson Auditorium that night.  With Orval Faubus still Arkansas’ governor, Armstrong was not too interested in staying in Little Rock very long. He left town quickly after the concert was concluded.

Little Rock Look Back: Louis Armstrong

SatchmoLouis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans.  As he rose to fame, he would play Little Rock numerous times in a variety of venues.

As the Civil Rights movement started taking hold in the mid-1950s, many African American entertainers were vocal in their support.  Armstrong stayed silent.  Until, that is, September 17, 1957.  That night, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, he blasted President Dwight Eisenhower for his lack of action to make Governor Orval Faubus obey the law.  This was in an interview conducted by a 21 year old University of North Dakota journalism student named Larry Lubenow.

Journalist David Margolick wrote about the incident in The New York Times in September 2007 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High School.  He recounted how the story, written for the Grand Forks Herald, was picked up all over the country.  The entire Margolick piece can be read here.  Margolick tells that when Armstrong was given the chance to back off the comments, he asserted that he meant all of it.

On September 24, 1957, the night that the 101st Airborne was being mobilized to come into Little Rock, Armstrong sent Eisenhower a telegram again criticizing him for lack of action.  He used colorful language which sarcastically spoofed the “Uncle Tom” moniker which some of his critics had bestowed when they felt he was not doing enough for Civil Rights.  The Eisenhower Presidential Library has a copy of that telegram.  The incident between Satchmo and Ike was the basis for two different plays: Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf and Ishmael Reed’s The C Above C Above High C.

Armstrong would again play a part in Little Rock’s Civil Rights history.  In September 1966, he played the first major concert in Robinson Auditorium that was before a fully integrated audience.  Since the early 1960s, there had been a few sporadic concerts which had been before integrated audiences. But the policy of the Auditorium Commission remained that the building was to be segregated.  Following the approval of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, public facilities had to be integrated. Louis Armstrong played before a full house at Robinson Auditorium that night.

Arts & Humanities Month: Clinton School lectures and Old State House

Two cultural institutions in Little Rock are partnering today on an event.  The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service is presenting one of its lectures today at the Old State House Museum.

The Clinton School lecture series offers a variety of speakers on a panoply of topics.  The speakers range from local figures to international dignitaries.  The lectures are free and open to the public; one needs only to RSVP since the seating is limited. The speeches are filmed and archived on the school’s website, as well.  This month’s lineup features:

  • “Behind the Scenes at Clinton’s ‘91 Announcement: Building a Community of Hope that Inspires the World” – Monday, October 3, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Old State House) *In Partnership with Old State House Museum
  •  “Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock,” author David Margolick -Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow
  •  “Scaling Social Good,” Erin Ganju, co-founder and CEO of Room to Read – Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  • John Kinkade, executive director of the National Sculptors’ Guild – Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  • “Cotton and Race in the Making of America,” author Gene Dattel – Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow
  •  “The Second City,” a panel discussion – Friday, October 14, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *In partnership with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre
  •  Arkansas Puzzle Day 2011 – Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  •  Phillip Singerman, associate director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – Monday, October 17, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *In partnership with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission
  •  Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor of architecture and urban design, Georgia Tech – Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  • Toni Maloney, co-founder and CEO of BPeace – Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  • “Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide,” author Rebecca Hamilton – Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow
  •  Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf – Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  • David J.R. Frakt, Professor of Law and United States Air Force Officer – Friday, October 21, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  • The Arkansas Consumer Confidence Report – Monday, October 24, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  • Markus Kostner, economist, World Bank – Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  •  Catherine Bertini, former World Food Prize Laureate – Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  •  “Straight Talk,” A Community Conversation – Thursday, October 27 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  •  Congressman Tim Murphy (R, Penn.) – Friday, October 28, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
  •  Melissa Boteach, Half in Ten manager, Center for American Progress – Monday, October 31, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)

Reserve your seats by emailing publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu, or calling 501-683-5239.

The Old State House Museum is located inside Arkansas’ first state capitol building.  A museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, it is dedicated to showcasing Arkansas history from 1836 to the present.  It has a variety of permanent exhibits as well as temporary exhibits.  The building’s most famous modern moments have been when it served as the backdrop to Bill Clinton’s 1991 presidential race announcement.  It was also on the front lawn that he celebrated on election nights in 1992 and 1996.

Current exhibits at the Old State House are:

  •  Arkansas/Arkansaw: A State and its Reputation, through March 4, 2012.

This exhibit sheds new light on the evolution of Arkansas’s backwoods, hillbilly image. The exhibit entitled, explores both the favorable and unfavorable parts of this history.

  • An Enduring Union: Arkansas in the Civil War, through 2012

This exhibit examines why Arkansas commemorates its Civil War veterans and features artifacts documenting the post-war Confederate and Union veteran reunions in the state. As part of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it will be followed by four other exhibits.

The permanent exhibits are:

  • As Long as Life Shall Last: The Legacy of Arkansas Women
  • Pillars of Power: The Old State House – A Historical Landmark of Arkansas
  • On The Stump: Arkansas Politics, 1819 – 1919
  • 1836 House of Representatives Chamber
  • First Families: the Mingling of Politics and Culture
  • In addition, the museum has five parlors and one hallway depicting different eras of furniture and decorative styles ranging from the 18th to the early 20th centuries.

Some of the programs the Old State House has planned in October are:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 12 noon

  • Brown Bag Lunch Lecture – Public Health and the Syphilis Epidemic in Arkansas in the 1940s

Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 10:30am

  • Little Beginnings Toddler Program – Fall, with Jane Jones-Schulz