For his many contributions to Jazz, and to democracy, a Tribute I produced for Larry Ridley’s NAJRI Jazz Hall of Fame, featuring Congressmen John Conyers.
In 1987, the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Congressman (D-MI) a champion of jazz, introduced a bill to the House and the Senate that cited the critical need to have Americas most unique and original art form afforded a status commensurate with its value and importance in the United States.
The bill passed unanimously: Jazz is hereby designated a rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood and promulgated.
Conyers is one of the 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and is considered the Dean of that group. Formed in 1969, the CBC was founded to strengthen African-American lawmakers’ ability to address the legislative concerns of Black and minority citizens. He has served longer in Congress than any other African-American. In 1971, he was one of the original members of Nixon’s Enemies List.
After Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, Rep. John Conyers introduced the first bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday.
Conyers was critical of Richard Nixon during his tenure, and as a result was number 13 on President Richard Nixon’s enemies list during Nixon’s 19691974 presidential tenure. The president’s Chief Counsel described him as “coming on fast” and that he was “emerging” as a “black anti-Nixon spokesman.”
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