y Today, Assistant Secretary Brimmer will meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia in Washington
In 2003, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1509, establishing the UN Mission in Liberia. More about #UNMIL: http://ow.ly/brQ8P
On an unseasonably cold and rainy Sunday, the action inside the Smithsonian’s new Warner Bros Theatre was anything but dreary. The afternoon’s celebration of jazz featured a roundtable discussion with jazz experts followed by musical performances before a crowd of diplomats and other invited guests.
I was thrilled to co-host our inaugural Embassy Jazz Day, Bridging Cultures Crossing Divides, with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History this past weekend. This occasion provided the opportunity to mark the role jazz plays in creating linkages between peoples, communities, and cultures while also enabling the next generation of jazz innovators to perform including Howard University’s Afro Blue and Lena Seikaly. This event also represented a first: a partnership between the Bureau of International Organizations Affairs and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
Jazz historian, NPR producer, and event moderator, Walter Watson, asked panelists to reflect upon the music genre’s influence upon the world. One of the Smithsonian’s jazz experts John Hasse relayed several first hand stories of the dramatic impact that jazz has played throughout the world. In South Africa, where Hasse spoke to a group of young musicians and then played Louis Armstrong for them, he was told the music changed their lives. And in Poland where a young boy, now a jazz musician, clung to jazz as an outlet for expression under the repression of the Iron Curtain. He defied silence by listening to black market recordings during the Cold War. And finally, Hasse spoke of the remarkable story of the son of a Turkish diplomat in the 1930s who used jazz to integrate a racially divided city by holding private jam sessions at the Turkish Embassy and inviting black and white musicians to jam together.
The genesis of Embassy Jazz Day began more 50 years ago after the Department of State launched jazz diplomacy, featuring international tours by American musical legends such as Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie introducing the world to jazz. It fueled an explosion in interest in American music and culture.
Now jazz has reached new diplomatic heights, punctuated by UNESCO’s appointment of music legend Herbie Hancock as a Goodwill Ambassador. Hancock helped to garner support for UNESCO’s International Jazz Day, which will be marked with celebrations and musical events in many corners of the globe on April 30.
For more information about the Smithsonian’s Jazz Appreciation Month, please visitwww.smithsonianjazz.org. For more information about International Jazz Day, including upcoming celebrations in Paris, New York, and New Orleans, please visit UNESCO’s Jazz Day webpage. And, you can view an archived version of Sunday’s event here.
On Wednesday, October 26, 2011, Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, will hold a conversation with Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation, on “Bridging Divides: Youth, Peace, and Reconciliation.” The discussion will be moderated by Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, and streamed live on DipNote, the Department of State’s official blog, at 2:00 p.m. (EDT).
You are invited to participate by submitting questions, some of which will be selected for response during the live broadcast. Submit your questions below in the comments section of this entry.
Actor Forest Whitaker is best known for his roles in films ranging from Fast Times at Ridgemont High to Bird. Whitaker won an Academy Award for his performance as Ugandan leader Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. He spearheaded the documentaries Better Angels, a film about Ugandan child soldiers, as well as Common Destiny about the power of education in promoting peace and reconciliation between communities. Mr. Whitaker’s humanitarian and artistic work earned him the UNESCO designation of Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation.
Through “Conversations With America,” leaders of national nongovernmental organizations have the opportunity to discuss foreign policy and global issues with senior State Department officials. These conversations aim to provide candid views of the ways in which leaders from the foreign affairs community are engaging the Department on pressing foreign policy issues.