UN Secretary-General salutes Wynton Marsalis, as he designates him ‘Messenger of Peace’

Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan during a ceremony at Lincoln Center, designating Wynton Marsalis a Messenger of Peace in New York on 22 March, 2001:

I am delighted to join you in this great hall — which Wynton Marsalis has made the new home of jazz — to designate him as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Wynton is recognized and respected the world over for his genius, his passion for excellence, his generosity of spirit and, of course, his wicked sense of humour. In a word, Wynton swings.

I use this term very carefully, but very deliberately, because I know I can pay him no higher compliment than to say he swings. Wynton is not satisfied with just swinging, however. He has spent his entire career teaching others, inspiring others, and bringing young and old together in celebration of music.

I have designated Wynton a Messenger of Peace because of his unique ability to project the power of jazz across all boundaries of colour and creed. He has shown in his life and work that humanity can, indeed, unite in celebration of a common good — a common good which can bridge all our differences. Wynton has been perhaps the greatest ambassador for jazz of our time. He will now become an ambassador for peace, as well.

I have no doubt that he will bring the same genius, the same passion to the cause of peace that he has brought to a lifetime of playing jazz. We are privileged to welcome him to the United Nations family. In a career of extraordinary achievements, Wynton is taking on perhaps his greatest challenge yet.

I salute him for his courage, his generosity and his humanity, and look forward to seeing him work his magic in the cause of peace.

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