Wynton Marsalis eloquently explains why he would play at Trump’s inauguration

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Wynton Marsalis speaks on stage at the Jazz at Lincoln Center 2016 Gala "Jazz and Broadway" honoring Diana and Joe Dimenna and Ahmad Jamal at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Jazz At Lincoln Center)

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – A long list of musicians and entertainers have refused to play at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, but New Orleans jazz icon Wynton Marsalis isn’t one of them.

Marsalis, in a post on his Facebook page, said he’s been asked a lot lately whether he would play at any of the inauguration events if asked to, and his answer is yes.

That answer didn’t sit too well with a group of college-aged students he was working with Tuesday, he said. The students also didn’t like his answer when asked whether he would protest the outcome of the election.

“I’ll at least wait for him (or them) to actually do something that I feel should be protested against,” he told them.

His answers prompted a long discussion about “selling out,” but the conversation then shifted to possible Russian interference and a conclusion by the students that it was not a legitimate presidential election. Marsalis quickly disagreed.

“It was all so sincere and heartfelt that the veteran in me had to smile,” he said. “When a process yields results you really don’t like, that’s the perfect time to endorse that process. It proves your belief in the larger agenda. And that’s why, if asked, I would be happy to play. As far as protesting goes, I did that on November 8th. The election was the protest.”

The heated discussion invoked nostalgia in Marsalis, who said he started thinking about his great uncle born in 1883 in rural Louisiana. His uncle would show up at the polls for every election, even though he was always turned away. Marsalis once asked his uncle why he continued to show up year after year to face the humiliation, to which his uncle answered, “Make people cheat you to your face, son.”

“Being a child of the Civil Rights Movement, I grew up knowing that activists from all walks of life courageously faced injustice head on. Being present was their calling card,” Marsalis said. “I think that many of the people boycotting this inauguration seem to have forgotten our democratic mandate to participate and our responsibility to be present.

“Participation is the way to honor all of the sacrifices of our ancestors and to create the world we would like to bequeath our descendants. Let’s be present,” he continued.

The inauguration is at 11 a.m. Friday. It will be broadcast live on WGNO.com and on WGNO-ABC 26.