Black Ethnic Struggles and the History of Jazz


The essay critically examines the history of black struggles in the United States and the history of jazz music to illustrate how they are connected. Black struggles and the black culture played an integral role in the origin and developments of jazz music. Further developments of jazz music are attributed to the expansion of civil rights movement and the integration of cultural changes in the society. As well, the general ethos and the world of jazz is a major phenomenon of the American history that has been integral in advancing social and cultural integration of different communities. Therefore, extensive research is carried out to assert the premises stated above on the connection of black struggles to jazz music.

Black Culture in a White Society

The origin and birth of jazz music can be traced back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Philipp (2009) states that “jazz obtained its musical identity from the African and European traditions.” The structures of jazz music traced back in New Orleans were inherited from the African American population showing practices and history passed down from the slavery to freedom age of the black community in the United States (Philipp, 2009). The defining era of the jazz music is found to be the 1920s which saw the evolution of the musical identity as a crucial part of the American popular culture. The fashion used in the jazz music as well, became a critical feature utilized in influencing the American popular culture.

The black culture is the white society is characterized by a reserved set of standards used to determine how the community operated. This include racial and ethnic discrimination, oppression, segregation, and suffering of the blacks in the white dominated society. The birth of jazz provided a platform for rebellion and agitation against the set standards of the society that were retrogressive and furthered the suffering the Black American population (Otto & Burns, 1974). African and slave folk song greatly influenced the expansion of the jazz culture that became part of the society as a way of the growing segment of the public that fought white supremacy and discrimination of the blacks.

The growth of black culture that prompted the intertwining with the white society can be drawn from the Antebellum era. The era saw a great rise of extensive African American activists that gained popularity attracting attention and support from a section of the white society. As a result, music and concerts of famous jazz musicians and artists such as Louis Armstrong became the rock facilitating the development of the society. Therefore, the struggles of the Black Americans and their culture furthered the birth and popularity of jazz music and its growth as part of the culture.

Role of Jazz Musicians in Advancing Integration and Fighting for Civil Rights

The use of jazz music proved to be an integral part of the American civil rights struggle and fight for equality. Gammage (2019) states, “greatly jazz musicians felt their music could influence their world and racial discrimination in the society.” The application the jazz musician’s talents such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk proved to be critical in the promotion of Civil Rights organizations (Gammage, 2019). The artists use of jazz music proved to be an essential part of the American popular culture whereby it appealed to both Whites and Blacks alike. As a result, this culminated in the development of a collective sense in which provided an environment that the individual and society were conjoined. Jazz musicians and music was used to advance social justice and racial equality that were key pillars of the Civil rights movements.

Progress of Jazz Styles Reflection on the Cultural Changes of the Century, General Ethos and the World of Jazz

In the 1920s, Art Deco became the dominant design style that characterized the artistic era of Jazz Age. According to Camey (2003), the evolution of jazz as a music style helped shaped ethos such as social justice, racial equality, civil rights and liberties for all Americans. These are values based on diversity of the society owing to the years of suffering and struggles among the African American society. Attributed to the slavery folk songs and the fusion of White cultures, Jazz styles sought to promote the best of the society on equal measure (Early & Monson, 2019). The development of Jazz culture sought to establish a society that was fair and just to all human beings.


In conclusion, the origin and developments of jazz music has played an integral role in the American cultural history. To date, jazz music holds a special place in the American culture. The Black American struggles provides the foundation and lessons that the society must strive to eradicate such practices. This is critical to ensure social and culture development in world of social justice, fairness, and equality. Race and ethno differences hold not definition to a society’s culture rather should be strengths upon which the community is built. Therefore, from one generation to another, jazz music has continued to shape the American and world culture positively.


Carney, C. P. (2003). Jazz and the cultural transformation of America in the 1920s.

Early, G., & Monson, I. (2019). Why jazz still matters. Daedalus148(2), 5-12.

Gammage, C. R. (2019). Freedom Now!: The Function of Jazz in the Civil Rights Movement.

Otto, J. S., & Burns, A. M. (1974). Black and White Cultural Interaction in the Early Twentieth Century South: Race and Hillbilly Music. Phylon (1960-)35(4), 407-417.

Philipp, Z. (2009). The Social Effects of Jazz. The York review6(1).


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