Although we are dealing with problems that I am not very proud of today; as a Turkish citizen, there is something about my country that I am very proud of. The following photo was taken at the Turkish Embassy in Washington in the 40s:
After this photo was taken, a diplomatic crisis occurred for the first time between the Republic of Turkey and the USA. At that time, discriminatory legal doctrines such as “separate but equal” were active in the United States, and certain “barriers” in public institutions were required by Jim Crow Laws between African Americans and White Americans.
Meanwhile, the Turkish ambassador of the period, Münir Ertegün, was constantly organizing invited proms for Black Jazz artists at the Turkish embassy in the capital, and he was trying to wage a political struggle against black racism at these invitations with the support of American Jewish Committee. The repeated meeting of Whites and Blacks in the same place eventually resulted in a “warning letter” sent to the Turkish Ambassador by the Senate of one of the Southern States:
“I am complaining about you letting Black Individuals into the Turkish Embassy through the front door. I would like to remind you that this is against the Jim Crow Laws.”
And Ambassador Ertegün responded to this warning with a short letter:
“In my country, our friends enter our house through the front door. But if you wish, we can let you in through the back door.”
Freedom is the supreme good for the human spirit, and its just application is a symbol of dignity for civilized man. Therefore, this struggle of a Turkish bureaucrat is the most important achievement that Turkey has officially brought to the world.
The Ertegün Family later established a record label called Atlantic Records and produced the albums of many Black Jazz artists: