James Reese Europe was already famous when he enlisted to fight in World War I. But the band he took to the frontlines — as part of the famous 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters — thurst him, and Black American music, onto the global stage. Moran sits down at the piano to show Kai how Europe’s band changed music, and how jazz carries the resilient sound of Black history and ambition in America.
Companion listening for this episode:
Saidiya Hartman introduces Kai to the young women whose radical lives were obscured by respectability politics, in the second installment of our Future of Black History series.
“The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC.