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Swing It Loud: Duke Ellington’s Early Black-Pride Music

Broadcast: February 18, 2024 at 4:00 p.m.

Listen to this episode: Click here.

Long before the rise of the black-pride movement in the 1960s, there was the music of Duke Ellington.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C. at the turn of the century and exposed early on to pageants and teachers that celebrated black culture, Ellington moved to New York City as a professional musician in the 1920s and came of musical age during the Harlem Renaissance.

Elegant, dignified, gracious, and constantly performing and composing, Ellington, Harvey Cohen writes, “walked, talked and created as if Jim Crow restrictions had never existed, his every move demonstrating the falsity of white supremacy.”

Through pieces such as Symphony in Black , Black, Brown and Beige , Jump For Joy , and Harlem , he artfully compelled listeners and critics to treat black life in America with the same value accorded to white people.