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Basin Street Blues

Louis Armstrong


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Stuttgart, Germany 1959

Louis Armstrong: (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971)

Louis Armstrong was born and raised in New Orleans and was grandson of slaves. Louis grew up in poverty in Uptown New Orleans and among other jobs would haul coal to Storyville where he got to see the likes of Joe "King" Oliver perform as a child. As Louis put it, "Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine—I look right in the heart of good old New Orleans...It has given me something to live for."

Armstrong was criticized by some black people for being too cordial in the face of extreme prejudice including being constantly degraded by white people on tour, not being allowed to use the restroom or drinking fountains at clubs he was performing at and plenty more. Louis always responded from the heart, with a smile and eyes that showed compassion for those filled with hate and ignorance. And sometimes, Louis did speak out. In 1957 the Governor of Arkansas disobeyed an order of the Supreme Court to allow black children to attend a white school in Little Rock. Our president at time, Eisenhower, refused to intervene. Louis responded to the press "The way they are treating people in the South, the government can go to hell!" and "The President has no guts" which made national news. Armstrong was also one of the major financial supporters of Martin Luther King Jr and the FBI even had a file on him.

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