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Before there was Duke Ellington, George Gershwin or Dizzy Gillespie there was James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters Marching Band – America’s most famous African American military band.


Join us as we commemorate the World War I centennial with The 369th Experience, an historic celebration of the Harlem Hellfighters and the African American experience in World War I through the arts and education.


Officially known as the 369th Regimental Band, the Harlem Hellfighters were the first African American regiment to fight during World War I. They became one of the longest-serving, most decorated units of the Great War.


The 369th Experience is a four-part tribute to the Harlem Hellfighters’ contributions to music and the military.


The 369th Experience Band will be replicated with 75 African American music students from the nation’s 107 Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). They will retrace the Hellfighters’ journey through Europe from their first stop in Brest to a victory parade along Paris’ Champs Elysee, where they shared their love of jazz with France and the rest of Europe. Marching performances on the home front include World War One commemorative events, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the centennial victory parade in New York. Concert performances nationwide include Washington, DC, New York, New York, Chicago, Illinois, Kimball, West Virginia, Atlanta, Georgia, Kansas City, Missouri and Los Angeles, California.

The 369th Experience is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization



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we need your help

We need your help to bring this historic celebration to life! Your donation will help finance the four components of The 369th Experience from auditioning and selecting our musicians, to producing the musical, shipping the traveling exhibition and creating and distributing our educational components. Our goal is to honor the contributions of these brave soldiers who faced adversity on and off the battlefield and changed the face of history and music in the US, Europe and the rest of the world. The Hellfighters brought jazz to Europe and set the standard for ragtime, big band and jazz. Their contributions were an integral part of not just Black history, but American history.

In 2015, Hellfighter William Henry Johnson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. In a ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama remarked,

The least we can do is to say we know who you are. We know what you did for us. We are forever grateful.



Let’s show our gratitude with a Centennial celebration like no other!
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