The Liberation of Jazz
Louis Armstrong's gravelly voice symbolized Paris liberated as much as General Charles de Gaulle's victory parade down the Champs-Élysées. On 25 August 1944 General Dietrich von Cholitz had just signed the act of capitulation of German forces occupying Paris. And on that day in August 1944, black American soldiers—having fought German forces a second time in thirty years in order to rekindle the dimmed lights of the city of Paris—stood poised, ready to relish marching in de Gaulle's victory parade. The presence of black American soldiers in this historic event would have been unrecorded except for the reports of African American war correspondents on assignments for the Negro press. Observing the parade, Ollie Stewart, correspondent for the Baltimore Afro-American, linked the liberation of Paris to that of black American soldiers from the racism of America. This generation of black GIs unwittingly became part of the legends when those with musical talent took part in the rebirth of jazz in liberated Paris.
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