Duke Ellington and his orchestra premiered an all-black musical revue, Jump for Joy, in Los Angeles in 1941 that addressed racial inequality while celebrating the possibility of a more democratic future. The musical was a cultural expression of the activist work of black Angelenos during the war years and highlighted African American demands for fair dealing. The article also demonstrates how unrecorded music can serve as a significant historical artifact.
Duke Ellington’s Jump for Joy and the Fight for Equality in Wartime Los Angeles
Benjamin Cawthra is associate professor of history and associate director of the Center for Oral and Public History at California State University, Fullerton. He teaches U.S. cultural history and public history and is the author of Blue Notes in Black and White: Photography and Jazz (University of Chicago Press, 2011), in which he studies intersections of visual culture, music, and race in the mid-twentieth century. He has curated the jazz-themed museum exhibitions Miles: A Miles Davis Retrospective (2001), Herb Snitzer: Photographs from the Last Years of Metronome (2008), and Kathy Sloane’s Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club (2015).
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Benjamin Cawthra; Duke Ellington’s Jump for Joy and the Fight for Equality in Wartime Los Angeles. Southern California Quarterly 1 February 2016; 98 (1): 5–58. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ucpsocal.2016.98.1.5
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