Evidence Passages Poem Poems Discuss. Social Issues Essay


¶ … evidence passages poem poems discuss. Social Issues Reed's The C. Above High C: Reed's play focused major social issues 50s, pertaining race, pertaining sex gender, approaches issues interesting directions. Ishmael Reed's The C. Above High

What does it mean to be a black artist in America?

Ishmael Reed's play The C. Above High C. juxtaposes the world of jazz with the civil rights struggles of the 1950s. It depicts famous trumpeter Louis Armstrong's support of the students in Little Rock, Arkansas and the opposition Armstrong experienced from his managers and the American public regarding his stance. The play explicitly illustrates the conflict between art and politics: Armstrong's personal beliefs in his mind were clearly tied to his art. As a black man in a historically black genre of music, he felt compelled to speak his conscious. However, it was far more 'comfortable' for those white men making a profit off of his talent that he stay silent and nonpolitical.

Reed selects Armstrong as the subject of his play because it demonstrates the ambivalent attitudes many...


On one hand, the legacy of racism in American history and culture cannot be denied. On the other hand, America has also frequently embraced African-American music and actors, and it could be argued that jazz is the most 'American' of all art forms. Armstrong was clearly angry to live in a country which embraced him as an entertainer, but would not allow people of his skin color to receive a comparable education with whites -- or even allow him to stay in hotels which were designated 'whites only' in the south. As a musician, Armstrong might find himself playing in a club or bar from which he would be barred as a patron.
Armstrong's cultural clout and his paradoxical sense of powerlessness are highlighted throughout the play. On one hand, Armstrong is famous enough to gain an audience with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when he publically criticized Ike for being insufficiently proactive in protecting the black students attempting to integrate the school system in Arkansas. However, despite this, Armstrong still faced hatred for simply demanding his civil rights like other…

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Works Cited

Reed, Ishmael. The Plays. Dalkey Archive Press, 2009

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