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Juneteenth 2022 Special Issue

369th Experience NYC 2019

The 369th Experience performing in New York's Rockefeller Center in 2019. The band, which is made up of music students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the U.S., plays the musical repertoire of New York's legendary 369th Regiment "Harlem Hellfighters" Regimental Jazz Band.

Juneteenth Musical Salute in DC to the
369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters

369th Experience logo

The 369th Experience, an official program of the US World War I Centennial Commission, is hosting a series of events and performances this weekend in Washington, DC, in recognition of Juneteenth, Black Music Month and the military and musical contributions of the 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters. Forward March for Freedom will bring band students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other schools across the country to Washington, DC to participate in a series of events and performances, highlighted by several public performances Saturday, June 18, and Sunday June 19.

The 369th Experience's re-creation band is comprised of 65 African American and Puerto Rican male band members from 17 HBCUs and other schools in the United States. 

The 369th Experience performances on Juneteenth weekend are listed below. You can follow the preparations of the 369th Experience on the Doughboy Foundation Facebook page leading up to the weekend events.

Saturday, June 18

White House to WWI Memorial March 8:00 a.m.

1919 Victory Parade

On Saturday, June 18, the 369th Experience will form up for a Symbolic March from The White House to the National World War I Memorial site. Marching with them will be "The President's Own" US Marine Band, as well as the descendants of the original 369th Regimental Band's leaders James Reese Europe and Noble Sissle. The parade route (from in front of the White House to 15th St. NW, south on 15th Street to the Memorial site at Pennsylvania Ave.) will follow in reverse the 1919 victory parade on Pennsylvania Ave. that ended at the White House.

National WWI Memorial Concert 9:00 a.m.

369th at Memorial site

The 369th Experience and "The President's Own" US Marine Band will perform in concert at the National World War I Memorial starting at 9:00 a.m. Located on Pennsylvania Ave. NW between 14th. and 15th. streets, the Memorial offers ample amphitheater step seating for the free & open to the public concert.

 

 

Kennedy Center Concert 6:00 p.m.

369th at Kennedy Center

The 369th Experience will perform a free  live (and live-streamed) concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Millennium Stage. Click here for more information on how to reserve free tickets to attend the live event in person at Kennedy Center Saturday, or how to watch the live stream of the concert from home.

 

Sunday, June 19

Something in the Water Festival 7:00 p.m.

Something in the Water

The 369th Experience will perform in concert with singer and songwriter Jon Batiste as part of the Something in the Water Festival in Washington, DC at 7:00 p.m. (scheduled) on Sunday, June 19. Click here to learn more about the Festival taking place June 17-19, and how to purchase tickets for the event.


James Reese Europe sheet music

The 369th Experience was created to acknowledge, educate, and preserve the legacy of The 369th Infantry Regiment, a regiment made up of African American and Puerto Rican soldiers who were not allowed to fight with their fellow Americans in World War I due to their race. Instead they braved the battlefield alongside French soldiers and went on to become one of the longest-serving, most decorated units of the American Expeditionary Force. In addition to their bravery on the battlefield, the Harlem Hellfighters were brilliant musicians who introduced ragtime, big band and jazz to the world, changing the course of music forever.

The band has performed music from the original 369th Regimental Infantry Band's musical repertoire at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and Rockefeller Center and the opening of The Shed in New York.

The Juneteenth events by the 369th Experience are sponsored by the Doughboy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Google, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Basketball Players Association Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


The Harlem Hellfighters of World War I

369th soldiers

By the end of World War I, the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor, would be awarded to the 369th Infantry Regiment. Better known as the Harlem Hellfighters, the regiment was an all-black American unit serving under French command in World War I, and they spent a stunning 191 days at the Front, more than any other American unit. In that time, they never lost a trench to the enemy or a man to capture. Instead, they earned the respect of both allies and enemies, helped introduce Jazz to France, and returned home to a grateful city where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to welcome home 3,000 Hellfighter heroes in a victory parade that stretched from 23rd Street and 5th Avenue to 145th Street and Lenox. Click here to read more, and learn how the 369th's postwar reception was much different from the way New York sent them off to war.


369th group

Who Are They?
Men in the 369th Infantry Iconic Photo

The photo above was taken on February 12, 1919, as soldiers from the 369th Infantry Regiment were waiting to disembark in New York on their way home from the Great War in Europe. This photo is one of several iconic photos of the 369th Infantry. Few of them, however, were accompanied by captions giving the soldiers’ names or anything about them. The 369th Infantry, whose members called themselves Harlem’s Rattlers, was the most famous all-Black regiment to fight during World War I. By the end of the war, France awarded the regiment the Croix de Guerre, and one hundred-seventy-one of the regiment’s men received individual Croix de Guerre medals for their valor.  Click here to read more, and learn more about the individual soldiers pictured in the famous photo, and how the 369th "helped to establish to the entire world the power of black soldiers in the military.”