Louis Armstrong. Personality. Race.
I had a long time admiration for the Jewish People. Especially with their long time of courage, taking so much abuse for so long. I was only seven years old, but I could easily see the ungodly treatment that the White Folks were handing the poor Jewish family whom I worked for. It dawned on me, how drastically. Even ‘my race,’, the Negroes, the way that I saw it, they were having a little better Break than the Jewish people, with jobs a plenty around. Of course, we can understand all the situations and handicaps that was going on, but to me we were better off than the Jewish people. Louis Armstrong, in His Own Words: Selected Writings. New York: Oxford University Press. 1965
Armstrong was noted for his colorful and charismatic personality. His autobiography vexed some biographers and historians, as he had a habit of telling tales, particularly of his early childhood when he was less scrutinized, and his embellishments of his history often lack consistency. He generally remained politically neutral, which at times alienated him from members of the black community who looked to him to use his prominence with white America to become more of an outspoken figure during the Civil Rights Movement of U.S. history.
Armstrong was largely accepted into white society, both on stage and off, a privilege reserved for very few African-American public figures, and usually those of either exceptional talent or fair skin tone. As his fame grew, so did his access to the finer things in life usually denied to African-Americans, even famous ones. It was a power and privilege that he enjoyed, although he was very careful not to flaunt it with fellow performers of color, and privately, he shared what access that he could with friends and fellow musicians.
That still did not prevent members of the African-American community, particularly in the late 1950s to the early 1970s, from calling him an Uncle Tom, a black-on-black racial epithet for someone who kowtowed to white society at the expense of their own racial identity. Billie Holiday countered, however, “Of course Pops toms, but he toms from the heart.”
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3yCcXgbKrE
Artist :Louis Armstrong
Einar Scheving Quartet
Louis Armstrong: Trumpet, Voice