Southerners, Celebrate Your Heritage


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Luis Armstrong

If my fellow southerners would like to celebrate their heritage, might I suggest they look no farther than Louis Armstrong? Or Flannery O’Connor? Perhaps the Marsalis family, William Faulkner, Horton Foote, John Coltrane, John Lee Hooker, the Alman Brothers Band, Pat Conroy, Harry Connick Jr., Booker T. Washington, or Carson McCullers? Perhaps Robert Johnson or Blind Willie McTell? Perhaps Eudora Welty? These all are southerners — just off the top of my head — who actually worked hard and contributed to our society.

(Why anyone would celebrate overweight redneck peckerwoods driving around with confederate flag decals on their trucks as some sort of “heritage” is baffling)

To return to Mr. Armstrong for a moment: he was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1900. The grandchild of slaves, he was the son of a prostitute; he never knew his father.

He was given his first cornet by the Karnovsky’s, a Jewish family of rag pickers who befriended him when he was a street urchin. It is quite possible that the first cornet he played was one of the countless brass instruments pawned by returning confederate marching bands. Now think of that for a moment.

Born into the deepest south in the most trying of times for an Aframerican, he took all of that darkness and anger and hate floating around in the air, picked up a horn, played some blues, and turned the whole thing into something folks could dance to, consequently becoming, along with Picasso, the greatest world artist of the 20th century — a century chock full of great artists.

In fact, the uncanny, mind bending argument can be made that had there not been slavery, we wouldn’t have Louis Armstrong to listen to today. How’s that for lemons into lemonade, on a cosmic scale?

Slap his visage on a flag and fly that over every southern courthouse, if you want to celebrate your heritage. I’d fly the shit out of that flag.

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Phillip William Brock

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