In 1957 the Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, ordered the state's National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African-American teenagers. President Eisenhower was slow to react and enforce the Supreme Court's decision, Brown vs Board of Education. Twenty days after the initial incident the President federalized the Arkansas' National Guard and sent in army's 101st Airborne Division to help the nine students enter the school safely. This event marked the first time racism in the South was on network television for the entire country to watch over almost a month long span.Click Here for more videos of Charles Mingus.
Charles Mingus wrote the song 'Fables of Faubus' as a response to this event and show his anger and disgust at the racism endured by black people in America. The song was first recorded for Mingus' album Mingus Ah Um in 1959 on the Columbia label though they would not allow the lyrics to be included. In 1960 Mingus was able to record the song on the Candid label with lyrics on his album Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. The lyrics include a call and response between Mingus and drummer Dannie Richmond.
"Mingus, as you know, was outspoken. He used the bandstand as a soapbox to communicate what was on his mind—about the ills of society, the inequities and the social injustice. He spoke out at all times, not just about people making noise in clubs during performances but also about political and social issues. This was a musical communication about his feelings, not to be confused with political protest. Mingus only wrote six or seven political compositions with lyrics, but he was not didactic. His purpose with his music wasn’t to confront social injustice. He was too much of a composer for that. But he did vent on the bandstand vocally about anything he felt was wrong or unfair. Back then, that took courage." - Sue Mingus