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VPM Passport Pick: The Jazz Ambassadors

Louis Armstrong greeted by local trumpet players
Louis Armstrong (center) is greeted by nine local trumpet players at the airport in Accra, The Gold Coast (present day Ghana) in 1956. Credit: Courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum

The Cold War and civil rights collide in this remarkable story of music, diplomacy and race. Beginning in 1955, when America asked its greatest jazz artists to travel the world as cultural ambassadors, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and their racially diverse band members faced a painful dilemma: How could they represent a country that still practiced Jim Crow segregation?

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