The surprising role of Muslim world diplomacy in the history of American jazz music and the desegregation of Washington, D.C., is just one of the fascinating stories in the recently published book.”DC JAZZ: Stories of Jazz Music in Washington, DC(Georgetown University Press) co-edited by Dr. Maurice Jackson, Specialist in African American History and Studies at QF Partner Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), and Blair A. Ruble, Distinguished Scholar for programs of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
In the opening chapter, Dr. Jackson tells the story of Turkish Ambassador’s sons Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertugun, their arrival in the US capital in 1935, and their appreciation of jazz music and musicians. created waves by inviting black artists to racially mixed luncheons and improvisation sessions at the embassy, and defied laws that prohibited black and white audiences from mixing by hosting integrated concerts for some of the musicians most famous emerging jazz artists.
According to the authors, “The Erteguns left Washington in a different city. Through their insistence on breaking down racial barriers, they had opened the door to greater integration in places of entertainment and, ultimately, so much more. Ahmet Ertugan, himself graduated from the DC campus of Georgetown Universitywould go on to co-found Atlantic Records, creating opportunities for many African American musicians and changing the industry.
The history of jazz isn’t just about musicians, music and melodies, says Dr. Jackson. “Music is a medium that has brought people together in their fight for equality and justice,” he said. “And that struggle has, in turn, influenced the kind of music that’s made and shaped the musicians who have played it.”
Through profiles of African-American musicians, music promoters, cultural and political figures, scholars and historians, and figures who inadvertently changed the course of history, like the Ertugans, said Dr. Jackson, the book also tells the story of the civil rights movement, or “the ‘deep connection between creativity and place’. The study of art is also the study of society because they are deeply connected and influence each other, themes that Dr. Jackson says he also covers in his courses on international business at GU-Q.
The book, a co-publishing initiative with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., expands on a special issue of Washington History Magazine, co-edited by Dr. Jackson, and includes more than thirty museum-quality photographs and resources for learning more about the jazz community in Washington, DC.
Dr. Jackson is a visiting scholar at the Georgetown campus in Washington, DC, a prolific author on 18th and 19th century African-American history, and a 2009 inductee into the Washington, DC Hall of Fame. He was also the first chairman of the DC Commission of African American Affairs.