The Harlem Hellfighters' Military Jazz Band

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Program Type:

History & Genealogy, Featured

Age Group:

Adult
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Program Description

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Do you love military history? Do you love Jazz? Then this program is for you. This is the little known story of the Harlem Hellfighters' Military Jazz Band. Led by the dynamic Lieutenant James Reese Europe, the regimental band of the 369th Infantry Regiment, US Army, AKA the Harlem Hellfighters, gained international renown both on the stages of France and in the trenches of the Western Front during World War I. Regimental bands were significant to the development of unit identities and the maintenance of morale; arguably none more so than the Hellfighters' band.

New York State Senior Historian Aaron Noble delves into the men behind the music and the band's place in New York and American history.

On August 25th, 2021 the legendary Harlem Hellfighters, 369th Infantry Regiment were recognized with a Congressional Gold Medal. They were an all-Black infantry unit that helped the U.S. win World War I. They fought with distinction in Europe but were met with racism by their fellow Americans on the battlefield and when they got back home.