aimed at elementary and secondary students and by preserving the many artifacts, documents,
and photographs that tell the story of jazz in America. By preserving the past and creating a new
generation of jazz musicians and fans, this legislation will help to ensure that this uniquely
American musical genre lives on
In 1985, under the leadership of Mr Conyers, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) Jazz Issue Forum and Concert was established to enhance and perpetuate the art form, emphasize its cultural heritage, and force awareness and pride within the African American community. Each year, the Forum explores a different aspect of the jazz experience in order to promote a better understanding of the diversity and vibrancy of this music as a dynamic cultural phenomenon within our society. Over the past 26 years, Congressman Conyers has covered such topics as mentoring, opportunities for new talent, jazz education, the economics of jazz, and the contributions of women in jazz. The Forum is held in conjunction
with the CBCF's Annual Legislative Conference. Traditionally, the Forum followed by a free
concert where live jazz is performed by some of America's finest jazz artists. The Jazz Issue Forum and Concert has brought together an impressive array of talent, from song stylists to composers, from musicians to publishers, from broadcasters to educators, and historians and archivists. Among the notables who have previously participated are: Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Lionel Hampton, Illinois Jacquet, Abby Lincoln, Nancy Wilson, Dr. Donald Byrd, Barry Harris, Dr. Billy Taylor, Shirley Horn, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Count Basie Orchestra, Gary Bartz, Hank and Elvin Jones, Wynton and Ellis Marsalis, and many more.
In 1987, the Congress passed Conyers’ House Concurrent Resolution 57 designating jazz a
"national American treasure."
In 1990, the Congressman won passage of a resolution commemorating tap, a form of dance
closely associated with jazz. That measure designated May 25th, the birthday of Bill
"Bojangles" Robinson, as National Tap Dance Day. Also in 1990, Congressman Conyers won
passage of appropriations legislation awarding the Smithsonian Institution with funding to
establish a comprehensive jazz program, including the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
During the 111th Congress, Mr. Conyers introduced House Resolution 894, honoring the 50th
anniversary of the recording of the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue and reaffirming jazz as a
national treasure. The album is widely considered the greatest jazz album of all time. The House
of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 894 on December 15th, 2009. The
vote showed a strong commitment on the part of Members of Congress to preserving and
celebrating American music and culture.
In the 112th Congress, Congressman Conyers introduced H.R. 2823, the “National Jazz
Preservation and Education Act of 2011.” The Act will make needed investments that will allow
for the preservation of artifacts that document our country’s jazz legacy and educate America’s
youth about this national treasure. Specifically, the Act will establish a National Jazz
Preservation Program at the Smithsonian and resurrect both the Jazz Artists in the Schools
Program and the Ambassadors of Jazz Program
Congressman Conyers has been supportive of efforts to present live jazz to the public in the
Washington, D.C. metropolitan area through his past service on the board of directors of such
organizations as Capital City Jazz Festivals, Inc., and District Curators. He has also served in the
past on the boards of the National Jazz Service Organization, and the Rhythm and Blues