On this day in Alabama History: James Reese Europe led the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ in a NYC parade

On this day in Alabama History: James Reese Europe led the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ in a NYC parade
Photograph shows African-American musicians in the 369th Infantry Regiment band led by James Reese Europe. (U.S. Army Signal Corps photographer, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

February 17, 1919

Bandleader James Reese Europe led the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” in a New York City parade as a crowd of 1 million cheered on. A native of Mobile, Europe was already an accomplished conductor when he earned the nickname “King of Jazz” while leading his black regimental band in performances throughout France during World War I. Europe died only months after returning home when an emotionally disturbed band member stabbed him during an intermission of a performance in Boston. He was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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