Archive for January, 2013

King, Ghana, Haiti and Lucille Armstrong…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2013 by Josslyn Luckett


Happy Birthday dear Martin!
Too bad I don’t have a photo of King circ 1957 when he had lunch with C.L.R. James in London on the way back from Ghana after celebrating Nkrumah’s inauguration. This overwhelmingly joyful shot of an older King with another Caribbean comrade will have to do for now. Favorite fact on King discovered last year…? While digging through Clayborne Carson’s spectacular digital archive I found a letter from C.L.R. James to King, after this March ’57 luncheon, where he said he hoped Coretta and Martin made it back to Montgomery safely and he should look out for a copy of The Black Jacobins (James’ epic account of the Haitian Revolution) to be forwarded to the Kings from the Armstrongs. Yes, I had to read and re-read the letter and accompanying footnotes many times to realize, let it sink in that James gave a copy of the Black Jacobins first to Louis and Lucille Armstrong and asked the Armstrongs to kindly pass it on to the Kings when they were through…!!!! See, Louis couldn’t make it back to Ghana in 1957 for the independence festivities, but his wife, Lucille did attend and presented Nkrumah with a documentary of Armstrong’s 1956 trip to the then Gold Coast (perhaps the screening is where Mrs. Armstrong and Mr. James first became acquainted?). lucille learning to dance

I am just starting to get my mind around Louis Armstrong and Martin Luther King hanging with Kwame Nkrumah and C.L.R. James across the ocean in the 1950’s…check out the archives (the photo above of Lucille dancing with unnamed Ghanaian gentleman to husband’s band in the background is from the Armstrong Museum archive) and explore for yourself.

Happy Birthday my fierce Black Atlantic Freedom Dreamer! So happy to be at UPenn this year as they are hosting almost 3 weeks of King festivities, I’ll even be leading a discussion at the Hillel Jan 23 on King, religious pluralism and jazz.