John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie got his nickname because he liked to make jokes and act up on stage. He was one of the greatest of all jazz musicians, and the most famous native of Cheraw, South Carolina. During the 1950s, when the Civil Rights movement was heating up, Gillespie served as an official ambassador for the U.S. State Department, touring the world to showcase American culture. He spoke up not only for jazz and America, but for humanity in general.
In 1989, he received the National Medal of Arts, the highest prize awarded to an American artist. His hometown has honored him in two ways: a seven-foot bronze statue of Gillespie stands in the Cheraw Town Green, and a park has been named for him. The Dizzy Gillepsie Park occupies the place where his childhood home once stood.