Charles Mingus and Central High

May 1, 2017

In September 1957, the events surrounding the desegregation of Central High School became a focal point for national and international outrage at Little Rock’s treatment of black schoolchildren. Jazz musician Charles Mingus composed a song called “Fables of Faubus,” which lambasted the Arkansas governor, labeling him, among other things, a “Nazi Fascist supremist.” Columbia Records felt the lyrics too controversial and would only release the track as an instrumental on Mingus’s 1959 album Mingus Ah Um. The following year, Mingus recorded the song with a different label, this time with lyrics, as “Original Faubus Fables,” for his album Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. It has been covered by a number of other artists since, including the Normand Guilbeault Ensemble version “Fable of (George Dubya) Faubus,” released in 2005.