Reporter Recalls Historic 1957 Louis Armstrong Scoop

Article excerpt

Fifty years ago this week, Larry Lubenow, a journalism student and part-time reporter for the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, managed to break an unlikely story that made international headlines and caused political repercussions. In an interview in Grand Forks, the normally good-tempered jazz great Louis "Satchmo" lacerated President Eisenhower for his handling of the Little Rock school integration crisis and set off a diplomatic firestorm by calling off a planned State Department-sponsored tour of Russia in protest.

Tuesday night, Lubenow himself will be interviewed in Queens, N.Y. by Vanity Fair writer David Margolick as part of the Louis Armstrong House Museum's program, "Louis Armstrong and Little Rock: What Really Happened." The program, at the Langston Hughes Community Center in Corona at 7 p.m., is an extension of the museum's exhibit "Breaking Barriers: Louis Armstrong and Civil Rights," on view through October 8.

"It was a shock, really, to get that call from Margolick," acknowledges Lubenow, now head of Larry Lubenow & Associates, a pr firm in Cedar Park, TX. "I hadn't realized it was the 50th anniversary of Little Rock--I don't feel that old. And I haven't told very many people about the Armstrong story."

The historic 1957 interview had gone smoothly enough until young Lubenow mentioned that Grand Forks was the hometown of Judge Ronald Davies, whose ruling that the integration of Central High School in Little Rock must proceed had just led to Governor Orval Faubus's deployment of the Arkansas National Guard to bar nine black students from entering. …


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