Title

Poisoning Their Coffee: Louis Armstrong and Civil Rights

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 2002

Publication Title

Polity

Abstract

This essay argues that the life and music of Louis Armstrong challenged mainstream American values and attacked racial hierarchy. In his lifestyle Armstrong pursued a carnivalesque celebration of bodily pleasure at the expense of the Protestant ethic. In addition, his concerts created utopian moments that united black and white listeners in the enjoyment of music. Finally, Armstrong's music represented an assertion of blackness and individuality in a racist society, bringing African American elements to the center of American music.

Original Citation

Charles Hersch. (2002). Poisoning Their Coffee: Louis Armstrong and Civil Rights. Polity, 34, 3, 371-392.

Volume

34

Issue

3