How Jazz and the Civil Rights Movement Intertwine




Jazz is the low moan of a saxophone, the growl of a trumpet, or staccato notes on a snare drum. Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) describes the art form as “a mingling of the musical expressions of all the people who came to the United States, by choice or by force; people from Africa, Europe, Latin America, as well as people who were already living in the U.S. Jazz was created by mixing together music from field chants and spirituals, to African rhythms and folk songs.”

Jazz at Lincoln Center produces a year-round schedule of performance, education, and broadcast events for audiences of all ages. Renowned jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is the artistic director.

The NAfME-JALC Strategic Partnership

In 2014, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and Jazz at Lincoln Center formed a strategic partnership to provide members with education resources that will enhance their ability to teach jazz and to understand the importance of jazz as part of our collective history.

For Black History Month, the JALC lesson plans, Jazz and Democracy, Jazz in the Civil Rights Era, and Jazz and the Harlem Renaissance, are examples of materials JALC is making available to NAfME members.

JALC educational programs include the Band Director Academy, JALC Youth Orchestra, Visiting Band Workshops, Family Concerts, Middle School Jazz Academy, and an early-childhood jazz program, WeBop.

A signature program of JALC education is “Essentially Ellington,” a free jazz education program for high school jazz bands. Through this program, 15 bands are selected to travel to Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York and participate in the Essentially Ellington festival and awards program.

JALC will be selecting education resources for elementary through high school teachers that will be available through direct links and on the NAfME website. These will include lesson plans, suggested teaching strategies, and other jazz educational materials. Look for additional JALC
content during Jazz Appreciation Month in April.

JALC also supports NAfME’s All-National Honor Ensemble Jazz Band. 

NAfME is proud to recognize Jazz at Lincoln Center as its newest strategic partner, and will work with them to orchestrate success for students and teachers.



Jazz at Lincoln Center You Tube videos—Watch Jazz Legends Practice Their Craft

Miles Davis, Freedom Jazz Dance

 John Coltrane, Alabama

Louis Armstrong, The Real Ambassador

Dave Brubeck, The Real Ambassador

Watch More:

Cannonball Adderly, Work Song

Pete Seeger, We Shall Overcome

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Over in the Glory Land

Ray Charles, Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift Every Voice and Sing (with Lyrics)

Ella Jenkins, Wade in the Water

Nina Simone, I Wish I knew How it Would Feel to Be Free

Roz Fehr,  NAfME Communications Content Developer, February 12, 2015 © National Association for Music Education (