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369th Philadelphia TribuneThe 369th Experience. a WWI tribute band sponsored by the U.S WWI Centennial Commission, performs in May in Rockefeller Center during Fleet Week New York, which this year commemorated World War I. The band, which is made up of music students from HBCUs across the U.S. plays the musical repertoire of New York's legendary 369th Regiment Harlem Hellfighters Regimental Jazz Band. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for U.S. WWI Centennial Commission) 

369th Experience Band ties HBCU musicians to WWI Black history 

By Leonard E. Colvin
via the Philadelphia Tribune newspaper web site

In 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I, two years after the U.S. entered the fight with France and Great Britain against Germany, 44 Black colleges existed.

Today, 100 years later, there are 101 public and private HBCUs, and they and their students are playing an important part in reclaiming the role African-American troops and artists played in that conflict.

Thanks to the United States World War I Centennial Commission, Coca Cola and the network of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), a band of 42 accomplished musicians from HBCUs are traveling around the country playing the sounds of the 369th Infantry Regimental Band that made its mark in history during World War I and World War II.

The old wartime regimental band was reincarnated four years ago in the form of the 369th Experience. Most of the new band’s 42 members are current students or pending graduates of the HBCUs.

Its namesake, the 369th Infantry Regimental Band of WWI and WWII, used musical instruments and its artists with a flair for Jazz, originated by African Americans, to establish its legacy, and introduce the art form to the Europeans.

The WWI band was formed to accompany the 369th Infantry Regiment, a group of Black fighting troops. Its assignment was to boost the morale of the Black troops comprising the 369th Infantry Regiment, formerly known as the 15th New York National Guard Regiment and commonly referred to as the Harlem Hellfighters.

Read the entire article on the Philadelphia Tribune web site.

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