MARTA VICTORIA COLON
Queens College is bringing back the Grand Forks Herald reporter, Larry Lubenow, who snuck into Louis Armstrong’s hotel room while he was on tour in North Dakota and published the now famous harsh comments directed at the U.S. government in defense of efforts made by nine African-American students who wanted access to Central High School in Little Rock in 1957.
The Langston Hughes Library, located at 100-01 Northern Boulevard is presenting “Louis Armstrong and Little Rock: What Really Happened” on Tuesday, September 18 at 7 p.m.
This free special event commemorates the 50th anniversary of the moment when Louis Armstrong spoke out against the injustice of discrimination in U.S. schools even after the passing of desegregation laws resulting from the Brown vs. Board of Education case in 1954.
Lubenow will be interviewed by Vanity Fair Editor, David Margolick, on his historic discussion with Armstrong on Civil Rights.
According to Deslyn Dyer, assistant director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum and organizer of the event, they have been hosting the exhibit, Breaking Barriers: Louis Armstrong and Civil Rights in Corona for nine months now and wanted to extend the exhibit to cover this anniversary.
Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans, LA in 1901, into a single-parent household and became one of the giants of jazz. He died of a heart attack on July 6, 1971 at age 69.
“Armstrong paved the road for others in the arts, traveled the road as ambassador, was in 35 motion pictures and brought people together with his wonderful music. This exhibit was created to celebrate his accomplishments,” said Dyer.
“After seeing the torment experienced by the students constantly being turned away from entering Central High School by an angry mob, Governor Orval Faubus, and the Arkansas National Guard, Armstrong was moved to speak.”
During his interview with Lubenow, Armstrong let loose calling President Dwight D. Eisenhower “two-faced” and Faubus an “uneducated plowboy.” The story was read worldwide and shattered the image some held of Armstrong as passive on race relations and catapulted him into the role of a Civil Rights leader.
This interview promises to reveal stunning new information about Lubenow’s historic evening with Armstrong, who had long been incensed at the injustices of American racism.
For information on other Little Rock commemoration events visit www.nps.gov/chsc/50th-anniversary.htm.
Louis Armstrong & the Little Rock interview
MARTA VICTORIA COLON