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Diversity Quiz

Armstrong, Baldwin, Jackson – Notable August Birthdays

by Margaret Manalo

Published: August 19th

The month of August is full of numerous birthdays, including three historic and influential African Americans. Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901) brought the jazz scene to life with his musical talents as a singer and instrumentalist. James Baldwin (August 2, 1924) broadened perspectives through his work as a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. Michael Jackson’s (August 29, 1958) musical career inspired continuous generations of dancers in multiple genres. Take this quiz for further background on these noteworthy men.


1. Jazz musician Louis Armstrong was born in one of the poorest sections of New Orleans, Louisiana on August 4, 1901. He purchased his first instrument at age seven; what was it?

A. trumpet
B. cornet
C. trombone
D. French horn

2. Which of the well-known musicians in New Orleans mentored Louis Armstrong?

A. Jelly Roll Morton
B. Sidney Bechet
C. Joe “King” Oliver
D. Antoine “Fats” Domino

3. What title did Armstrong gain due to his increasing popularity through the 1950s and 60s?

A. Champion Satch
B. General
C. Jazz-Star Satch
D. Ambassador Satch

4. What is the title of American writer James Baldwin’s first novel?

A. Go Tell It on the Mountain
B. Giovanni’s Room
C. Another Country
D. Nobody Knows My Name

5. What prompted the subject for Baldwin’s 1963 novel, The Fire Next Time?

A. Baldwin’s passion for human equality
B. Baldwin’s troubled relationship with his strict and religious stepfather
C. Baldwin’s experiences working for the New Jersey railroad
D. Baldwin’s exploration of black identity and racial struggle

6. In which country did Baldwin write his book, If Beale Street Could Talk?

A. The United States
B. Switzerland
C. France
D. Turkey

7. What was the name of Michael Jackson’s debut band, composed entirely of his family members?

A. The Jacksons
B. Jackson Bros
C. Jackson 5
D. Michael and the Jacksons

8. With whom did Michael Jackson’s group release their first album?

A. Diana Ross
B. Gladys Knight and the Pips
C. James Brown
D. Sam and Dave

9. How many Grammy Award nominations did Michael Jackson’s hit “Thriller” receive?

A. 9
B. 10
C. 11
D. 12


1. [C] cornet.
Louis Armstrong’s first real horn was a cornet, a brass instrument similar to the trumpet. At age 11 on New Year’s Eve, Armstrong fired a pistol, which sent him to the Jones Home for Colored Waifs by the juvenile court. There he received his first formal music lessons and even played in the home’s brass band. Eighteen months later, he was released and continued to support himself as a musician. Armstrong played with pick-up bands in small clubs alongside his mentor.

Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2014, from

2. [C] Joe “King” Oliver.
All four musicians (Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, Joe “King” Oliver, Antoine “Fats” Domino) were known for crafting a new type of band music out of blues and ragtime, but “King” Oliver was the one who took Armstrong under his wings. Oliver let Armstrong play alongside him in pick-up bands and small clubs. Armstrong’s popularity skyrocketed in the 1920s when he left New Orleans for Chicago to play with Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band as second cornet.

Louis Armstrong. (2000, January 1). Retrieved August 14, 2014, from

Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2014, from

3. [D] Ambassador Satch
Louis Armstrong was fondly known as “Satchmo,” short for “Satchelmouth” that refers to the size of his mouth – a feature lending to his skill as a cornet player. Five years after marrying Cotton Club dancer Lucille Wilson and settling in Corona, Queens, Armstrong assembled a band called the All-Stars. This small group of notable players revitalized mainstream jazz. Afterwards, Armstrong continued to make appearances in popular films, broadcast, participated in State Department-sponsored tours, and even made international tours through the 1950s and 60s, which developed his nickname to “Ambassador Satch.” Armstrong spread America’s goodwill across the world, including West Africa, being well-received in the newly independent nations of Africa at that time.

Louis Armstrong. (2000, January 1). Retrieved August 14, 2014, from

Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2014, from

4. [A] Go Tell It on the Mountain
To expand his perspective and thus write about his American childhood, James Baldwin set off traveling abroad. He left Harlem for Greenwich Village, to Paris, and then to Switzerland – where he finished Go Tell It on the Mountain, his first novel after writing a series of essays and book reviews. Go Tell It on the Mountain was published in 1953 and was Baldwin’s autobiographical work about growing up in Harlem. This novel expressed the depth of black Americans struggles, an issue that had not been written about before. Baldwin’s Nobody Knows My Name, as well as Notes of a Native Son, are books of essays exploring racial tension. Giovanni’s Room and Another Country, are novels that dealt with taboo themes such as homosexuality and interracial relationships.

James Baldwin About the Author. (2006, November 9). Retrieved August 6, 2014, from

5. [D] Baldwin’s exploration of black identity and racial struggle
In the early 1960s, about ten years after doing some writing in Paris, New York, and Istanbul, Baldwin returned to America to take part in the Civil Rights Movement. He traveled through the South and worked around the themes of black identity and the state of racial struggle. Baldwin’s exploration led to the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963. The novel became an instant bestseller and put Baldwin on the cover of TIME Magazine.

James Baldwin About the Author. (2006, November 9). Retrieved August 6, 2014, from

6. [C] France.
The assassinations of friends Medgar Evers, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X inspired Baldwin’ book, If Beale Street Could Talk. Baldwin returned to France in St. Paul de Vence to write the book, having it published in 1974. The theme of If Beale Street Could Talk was centered upon the disillusionment of the times. Many criticized the book, however, responding to its harsh tone with accusations of bitterness. Baldwin did indeed capture his anger of the times within the book, but also continued to advocate universal love and brotherhood. Over the last ten years of his life, Baldwin composed numerous works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; he also became a teacher to connect with the younger generations.

James Baldwin About the Author. (2006, November 9). Retrieved August 6, 2014, from

7. [C] Jackson 5
In the beginning, it was the Jackson Family performers, involving Michael Jackson’s older brothers Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie. Then Michael joined as the group’s lead vocalist when he turned five. Eventually, older brother Marlon joined to complete the group as The Jackson 5. Their father Joseph Jackson was once a guitarist, but then put away his dreams of musical fame and became a crane operator to provide for the family. Once his sons became a solid group, he aggressively pushed them towards success.

BIOGRAPHY: Michael Jackson. (2014, January 1). Retrieved August 19, 2014, from

8. [A] Diana Ross
Like many musical groups, the Jackson 5 began by playing local gigs to build a strong following. Their first single, “Big Boy,” was an accomplishment, but failed to generate great interest. Then the Jackson 5 moved on as the opening act for a multitude of R&B artists, such as Gladys Knight and the Pips, James Brown, and Sam and Dave. The Jackson 5 caught their big break when they impressed Motown founder Berry Gordon, who signed them to his label in 1968. After relocating to Los Angeles, California, the Jackson 5 soon served as the opening act for the Supremes (a group including Diana Ross), and then released their first album, “Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5.”

BIOGRAPHY: Michael Jackson. (2014, January 1). Retrieved August 19, 2014, from

9. [D] 12
Unfortunately, management of the Jackson 5 became a source of arguments between Berry Gordy and Joseph Jackson. The Jackson 5 disintegrated into the Jacksons, with Jermaine Jackson as the only member to stay with Motown. Michael Jackson began doing solo performances, which progressed his success as an individual as well as their remaining group of four known as the Jacksons. Michael Jackson’s solo album “Thriller” released in 1982 generated seven top 10 hits. The album’s title track included an incredibly elaborate video, and the song remained on the charts for 80 weeks, holding the No. 1 spot for 37 weeks. The song “Thriller” received 12 Grammy Award nominations and won eight of those awards.

BIOGRAPHY: Michael Jackson. (2014, January 1). Retrieved August 19, 2014, from

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