LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND LITTLE ROCK – A REPORTER’S STORY, 50 YEARS LATER
-- Vanity Fair Editor David Margolick to Interview Reporter Larry Lubenow
on His Historic Discussion with Armstrong on Civil Rights --
“Louis Armstrong and Little Rock: What Really Happened”
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House tours and exhibit, Breaking Barriers: Louis Armstrong and Civil Rights at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56 107 Street, Corona
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NOTE: A free shuttle bus will bring visitors from the House Museum to the interview at the library.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
5 – 6:30 pm Exhibition and House Tours.
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7 pm “Louis Armstrong and Little Rock” program. Reception to follow.
Langston Hughes Community Library (Queens Library)
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100-01 Northern Blvd., Corona
CORONA, NY, August 15, 2007 -- On Tuesday, September 18 at 7 pm, the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Langston Hughes Community Library will join the nation in commemorating the 50th anniversary of school desegregation in Little Rock, with an interview of former newspaper reporter Larry Lubenow. In 1957, Lubenow broke the story that Louis Armstrong was canceling his Russian tour, a U.S. State Department-sponsored event, to protest the injustices occurring in Arkansas. This event is free and open to the public.
On September 4, 1957, when nine black schoolchildren had attempted to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, an angry mob protested, and the governor, Orval Faubus, called in the Arkansas National Guard to intimidate and physically block the students from entering.
News of these events reached a shocked nation including Louis Armstrong, who was on tour in North Dakota at the time. When interviewed by Lebenow, then a young reporter from the Grand Forks Herald, Armstrong let loose with both barrels, calling President Dwight D. Eisenhower “two-faced” and lambasting Governor Faubus as “an uneducated plowboy.” The story, picked up by the Associated Press, went out worldwide, immediately eradicating the image some had held of Armstrong as passive on race relations. Armstrong biographers cite this AP news story as a courageous example of a celebrity “telling it like it is.” But the real story is even more fascinating.
Larry Lubenow will be interviewed by David Margolick, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair who is working on an article on the Little Rock crisis for the magazine. The program promises to reveal stunning new information about Lubenow’s historic evening with Armstrong, who had long been incensed at the injustices of American racism.
The program will be held in the auditorium of the Langston Hughes Community Library. It will be preceded by guided house tours and viewing of the exhibit, Breaking Barriers: Louis Armstrong and Civil Rights, at the Louis Armstrong House Museum. A shuttle bus will transport attendees to the library.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum, today a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark administered by Queens College, was the long-time home of the jazz great. Open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, the house museum attracts visitors from all over the world. For more information and travel directions, visit www.louisarmstronghouse.org.
For information on other Little Rock commemoration events, visit http://www.nps.gov/chsc/50th-anniversary.htm
Major funding for the Louis Armstrong House Museum is provided by the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.