The Jazz Man: Charles Black's Upbringing in the Segregated South Inspired his Lifelong Fight for Civil Rights

APR Legal Affairs, Vol. 42, 2003

3 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2010 Last revised: 21 Apr 2010

See all articles by Aviam Soifer

Aviam Soifer

University of Hawaii at Manoa - William S. Richardson School of Law

Date Written: April 1, 2003

Abstract

When Charles Black was a teenager growing up in the segregated Texas of the 1930s, he heard Louis Armstrong play the trumpet at an Austin dance. More than 20 years later, Thurgood Marshall introduced Black at a celebration of Brown v. Board of Education held at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. “And next over there is Charlie Black, a white man from Texas, who's been with us all the way,” said Marshall, who had led the NAACP campaign against segregation and argued Brown before the Supreme Court. Black credited Armstrong's sorrowful yet irrepressible jazz with compelling him to join the fight for racial equality. Listening to this music in his corner of the South between the world wars, Black said, he began to understand segregation as “that most hideous of errors,” which he called “the failure to recognize kinship.” Years later he explained, “It is impossible to overstate the significance of a 16-year-old Southern boy's seeing genius, for the first time, in a black.”

Suggested Citation

Soifer, Aviam, The Jazz Man: Charles Black's Upbringing in the Segregated South Inspired his Lifelong Fight for Civil Rights (April 1, 2003). APR Legal Affairs, Vol. 42, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1587165

Aviam Soifer (Contact Author)

University of Hawaii at Manoa - William S. Richardson School of Law ( email )

2515 Dole St.
Honolulu, HI 96822-2350
United States

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