Jamilla Deria, Executive Director of the Fine Arts Center at UMass Amherst, talks about the history of the Jazz in July Program.  

Deria also talks about the significance she feels the program still has on campus 40 years after it started in this digital exclusive. 

See the Jazz in July program in action in our full story on the UMass Amherst program. 

Read the full transcription:

Jamilla Deria, UMass Fine Arts Center: Jazz in July is our oldest education program. Jazz in July represents not only our long standing commitment to arts education, but to the form of jazz.

Our first long-time director, Dr. Frederick C. Tillis, worked for many years to establish a degree jazz program at UMass, and then as an extension of that work, he established the Jazz in July program.

A big reason why Dr. Tillis, and later Max Roach and Billy Taylor, felt that programs like Jazz and July were so important was because it connected students from all over the state and the country with not only the musical, but even political and ideological perspectives of thinkers, creators, artists not only from this generation, but from generations before.

So, Jazz in July, in many ways carries that tradition of using the arts as a gateway to the world.