African-American Islam and Jazz: Religion, Music, and Black Internationalism


ACLS Fellowship Program


Religious Studies and African American Studies


This project explores the historical connections among jazz, African-American Islam, and black internationalism from the 1940s to the 1970s. It argues that African-American Islam and jazz shared parallel values of black affirmation, freedom, and self-determination. Focusing on the spiritual, musical, and political creativity of swing and bebop musicians in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, it also argues that the conversion of jazz artists to Islam was central to the ascendancy of the religion in the United States. The project examines the interactive lives of jazz musicians and Muslims in a black Atlantic context of coolness and masculine performance during the era of global black liberation that spanned the period from World War II to the very beginning of the Black Power movement.