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Their Glory Can never fade - harlem hellfighters

Event

The Bandleader Who Changed America

A Musical Journey Through the Life of James Reese Europe

October 4, 2018 | 6:30 p.m.

Swyer Theatre, The Egg

FREE EVENT- No tickets required.

Through the use of photos, film, and live music, this multimedia presentation will focus on the life and music of James Reese Europe (1880-1919), an extraordinary individual who was not only instrumental in the success of the Harlem Hellfighters, an African-American military regiment from New York that was dispatched to fight for France in World War I, but had a major influence in the development of jazz, swing, and contemporary dance music. Featuring special guests Michael Dinwiddie, associate professor at New York University’s Gallatin School and William Meckley, founder and music director of the Empire Jazz Orchestra, this special evening will also include a musical demonstration and performance by jazz pianist and composer David Gleason, highlighting the history of early jazz music and Europe’s profound impact as a bandleader. Sponsored by JDog Junk Removal & Hauling.

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About the Exhibit

Authorized in 1913, the 369th Infantry Regiment, formerly known as the 15th Infantry of the New York National Guard, was the first African American regiment of the New York National Guard. Having no prior combat experience, the regiment based in Harlem consisted of African American men from all over New York State and Puerto Rico.

After serving 191 days of combat in France, longer than any American regiment of World War I, the German army nicknamed the soldiers “Hellfighters” due to their actions on the battlefield. Facing discrimination at home and possessing a passion to demonstrate their worth as an African American military regiment, the 369th transformed into an accomplished unit—one whose legacy left an indelible mark on music and cultures worldwide.

This legacy has had a lasting impact on African Americans’ participation in impending conflicts post-World War I; especially notable is the Vietnam War which officially marked the first-time African Americans served in fully integrated combat units.

Explore

Creating the Regiment
Discrimination
369th in France
191 Days of Combat
Homecoming
Legacy & Today
 

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The 369th en route to France
Stereograph Card - The 369th en route to France.
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
No Man’s Land near Lens, France
Stereograph Card - No Man’s Land near Lens, France. No Man’s Land was the area in between the opposing sides’ trenches. Multiple members of the 369th fought in battle at No Man’s Land.
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
U.S. Transport Leviathan, Formerly the Vaterland.
Stereograph Card - U.S. Transport Leviathan, Formerly the Vaterland. The 369th were transported back to New York from France on the Leviathan.
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
Wonderful night war photo. American attacj on German lin in France.
On the morning of November 17, 1919, six days after declaring Armistice, the French army and the 369th made their way on horseback to the Rhine. The French expressed their gratitude to the regiment by allowing them to lead the journey, making the 369th the first troop to cross the Rhine.
Collection of Alan Laird
On Patrol in No-Man’s Land
Lieutenant James Reese Europe wrote On Patrol in No-Man’s Land while recovering in a French hospital. With lyrics such as, “Don’t fear, all’s clear. That’s the life of a stroll. When you take a patrol out in No Man’s Land,” Europe used his jazz compositions to provide a firsthand account of soldier life on the battlefield.
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
WWI Musician First Class Patch c. 1917-1919
WWI Musician First Class Patch c. 1917-1919
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
French Croix de Guerre with Palm c. 1914-1918
French Croix de Guerre with Palm c. 1914-1918. The French awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery to the entire 369th unit. Stars or palms could be added to the medal to signify higher levels. For his heroic efforts, Henry Johnson was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme.
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
French Croix de Guerre c. 1914-1918
French Croix de Guerre c. 1914-1918
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
French Croix de Guerre, Reverse Side c. 1914-1918
French Croix de Guerre, Reverse Side c. 1914-1918
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
United States Model 1910 “Bolo” Trench Knife.
United States Model 1910 “Bolo” Trench Knife. The type of knife used by Henry Johnson during the battle against the Germans. The term “bolo” and the shape of the blade are copied from knives encountered by US Forces fighting in the Philippines in the early 1900s.
Collection of Stuart W. Lehman
African American Soldier’s Family, Lithograph.
African American Soldier’s Family, Lithograph.
Collection of Alan Laird
Recruits Wanted, 15th Regiment New York Guard
Recruits Wanted, 15th Regiment New York Guard
Image courtesy of New York State Museum Collections
Unit Citation for Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, December 9, 1918
Unit Citation for Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, December 9, 1918.
Image courtesy of Noble Sissle Jr.
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Rise of the Harlem Hellfighters

June 2, 1913

Governor William Sulzer signs a bill authorizing the creation of the 15th Infantry of the New York National Guard making them the first African American Infantry of the New York National Guard.

April 6, 1917

America enters World War I and three days later the regiment is recognized by the federal government.

October 8, 1917

The regiment traveled to Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, South Carolina but face such severe discrimination from the locals that the regiment is moved to France to continue training.

December 27, 1917

The regiment lands in France but is only used as a labor unit, building roads and docks, while the regimental band, directed by James Reese Europe, toured hospitals and camps.

March, 1918

After months of rallying for combat, the 15th Infantry is granted permission to join the French Army as the 369th Regiment of the United States.

May 14 - 15, 1918

Henry Johnson, a native of Albany, New York, defeats over twenty German soldiers using a broken rifle, a handful of grenades, and a bolo knife in what became known as “The Battle of Henry Johnson.”

December 13, 1918

The 369th Regiment receives France’s prestigious military honor, the Croix de Guerre. For his bravery, Johnson was awarded the Croix de Guerre “avec Palme.”

February 17, 1919

The 369th is welcomed home by massive crowds in a parade along 5th Avenue into Harlem.

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Open Monday - Friday

February 1, 2018 - February 28, 2019

8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. | Vietnam Memorial Gallery | Abrams Building for Law and Justice