Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

African American-Turkish Connections through the Arts

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

African American-Turkish Connections through the Arts

Article excerpt

Turks and Americans have enjoyed a cultural relationship extending back decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, American novelist James Baldwin (1924-1987) credited Turkey with "saving my life" because of the freedom and lack of discrimination he experienced as an African American living and writing in Istanbul.

Turkish entrepreneur Ahmet Ertegun (1923-2006) devoted much of his career to promoting African-American musicians and working for racial equality. A cofounder of Atlantic Records in 1947, he was also a prime mover in creating the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. While segregation prevailed in Washington, DC in the 1930s, Ertegun's father, Munir Ertegun, Turkey's ambassador to the United States, routinely hosted African-American musicians and guests at his official residence. …

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