We are pleased to partner with Smithsonian Theaters to host the Washington premiere of the film, The Jazz Ambassadors, on April 30, 2018. In 1956, America announced a new Cold War weapon to combat the USSR; jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck, along with their racially-integrated band, would cross the globe to counter negative Soviet propaganda about racial inequality in America. But the unfolding Civil Rights movement back home forced these cultural ambassadors into a moral bind; how could they promote a tolerant image of America abroad when equality remained an unrealized dream? This is the story of how jazz musicians fought back, winning Civil Rights a voice on the world stage when it needed one most. The director of the film will be in attendance for a Q&A.
The inevitable moral responsibility of the filmmaker is not to get at the truth and certainly not the whole truth, but to get at a truth.
— Ric Burns, filmmaker, History Film Forum Keynote Address 2015