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Let Freedom Swing -- Curriculum on Jazz and Democracy

Let Freedom Swing is a curriculum that explores the many relationships between jazz and democracy. In anticipation of President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and musician, composer, educator and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis teamed up for a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The resulting conversation between O’Connor and Marsalis about the connections between jazz and democracy culminated in three brief documentaries, E Pluribus Unum, We The People and A More Perfect Union. These documentaries serve as the platform for Let Freedom Swing (

The videos and study guide are designed for use in social studies, humanities, and music classes in grades 6-12, although teachers may be able to adapt the materials for use with younger children. Three key themes structure the aforementioned three videos and study guide. Each video is about six minutes in length. The study guide contains questions for discussion, teaching activities, and additional resources. The website contains the three videos, the study guide, information about the project, and additional print, digital, and video resources. The creators of Let Freedom Swing hope educators will find these materials useful in stimulating student interest in two of America’s greatest creative contributions—jazz and democracy.

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