WWI ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ Honored with Mural by Uptown Youth

CENTRAL HARLEM — A mural dedicated to the “Harlem Hellfighters” — the first African-American regiment to serve with the U.S. military during World War I — was unveiled Tuesday at the 369th Regiment Armory.

The mural was created by young artists from the Creative Arts Workshop, a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programs, workshops and full-time summer jobs to the youth in upper Manhattan. Eight artists aged 14 to 20, two CAW interns and a teaching artist were involved in the design and creation of the mural.

The 369th infantry, nicknamed the “Hellfighters,” is known for being the first African-American regiment to serve with the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I. The artwork depicts iconic figures tied to the Hellfighters’ rich history, as well as personalities, quotes and symbols that the young artists chose to portray.

Miles DeSouza, 17, has been with the nonprofit for the last four years and helped create the mural. It took the group six weeks to complete it, and he said they worked about five-and-a-half hours a day for four days a week.

“It’s not only about the art,” DeSouza said. “It’s about working with a team.”

DeSouza said they worked to incorporate as much of the Harlem infantry’s history as possible.

But during the unveiling, a member of the audience commented that while the artists had represented the Hellfighters’ friendship with the French, they had left out their relationship with other nationalities.

“It’s hard to include everything,” DeSouza replied. “We wanted to be able to strike a balance and make everyone happy.”

The brightly painted mural features early Hellfighter figures like James Reese Europe, a lieutenant who went on to direct the regimental band. It sparked a theme of music in the mural represented through musicians like Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Bob Marley.

Kate Sanders-Fleming, the teaching artist in-charge of the project, said she noticed the youth team open up to each other during the project. Older students began helping younger ones, whether it was through painting techniques or understanding the history of the Hellfighters.

“I saw a lot of buddying up and supporting of each other,” she said.

She added that the young artists came up with several figures portrayed in the mural, like a peace dove, shackled hands, and the female symbol with the Harlem Hellfighters logo placed within it, signifying women who served in the military.

“It was a collective decision,” Sanders-Fleming said.

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120815/central-harlem/wwi-harlem-hellfighters-honored-with-mural-by-local-youth#ixzz23fJ3MmZE


Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith: Stride piano’s uptown Rruler

The life of stride pianist Willie “The Lion” Smith was the stuff of legend, but unfortunately, some of that legend seems to have come from Smith’s own imagination. For example, Smith always claimed to have been born in 1897, but his WWI draft registration states that he was born 118 years ago, in November 1893.

Like the date of his birth, the origin of his nickname (“The Lion”) is also subject to debate; Smith always said that he earned it for his bravery as an artilleryman in WWI. After the war, he returned to Harlem and was soon known as one of the three great Harlem stride-piano players (along with James P. Johnson and Fats Waller). Among the Big Three, many remember Smith as the chairman of that particular board: Duke Ellington idolized “The Lion.” Aspiring jazz pianists as diverse as Billy Taylor and Thelonious Monk studied under him. Smith was also a composer, a bon vivant, a student of Judaism and one of those maddening braggarts who could make outrageous claims about his abilities and then proceed to back them up. He was seldom seen without a cigar in his mouth and a derby on his head; he made sure he was noticed, which he usually accomplished by outperforming every other piano player in the room.

When Art Kane published his famous Great Day in Harlem photograph in Esquire magazine in 1958, some wondered where “The Lion” was. Well, Smith showed up for the shoot, but got tired of standing around, so he sat on the stoop of a nearby brownstone while that great photo was taken. Here are five reasons why Willie “The Lion” Smith should have been in that picture.

Copyright 2011 KVIX-FM. To see more, visit http://www.jazz24.org.

Harlem Travel Guide iPhone and iPad App

For years people have come to Harlem, primarily on tour buses.  They get off the bus to hear gospel music at a church, but usually leave before the worship service ends, and have a meal.

Harlem is the third most visited tourist destination in New York City.  Yet most visitors have no idea what there is to see or what to expect.  Unbeknownst to many visitors, Harlem has three distinct areas: Central Harlem, where African Americans first settled in the early 1990s; East Harlem or El Barrio, which is home to Latinos, with Puerto Ricans first migrating to the enclave after WWI; and West Harlem, which includes a diverse population of African Americans, West Indians, Latinos, and whites.  As a bonus we included Washington Heights’ home to Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s oldest house.  We want people’s feet to hit the ground to explore Harlem’s rich history, which is unparalleled by any other New York City neighborhood.  Its ethnic diversity makes it a fascinating place to visit and this app will help visitors and residents alike navigate its nooks and crannies.


  • More than 360 entries with over 2000 photographs
  • This visually rich app consists of detailed New York City visitor’s information from visitor centers, tourist websites, weather, news, holidays, sales tax, smoking rules, tipping and transportation to and from airports and in the city
  • Detailed descriptions which include uncommonly known cultural and historical facts, websites, phone numbers, hours of operation, prices, menus and hyperlinks that link entries and lead to websites for additional historical and factual information.
  • Entries sorted by name, category, distance, price, and neighborhood
  • Once click to websites, phones, online ordering, online reservations, current menus and more
  • Live calendar
  • Ability to share user comments and mark and save favorites
  • Ask the authors questions through in-app comments to get personalized feedback at your finger tips
  • YouTube videos
  • GPS enabled Google maps with walking, driving and mass transit directions
  • Access offline content anytime
  • Free upgrades for life

What’s inside

  • Nightlife and entertainment from jazz, Latin salsa, opera to classical music;
  • Theatre, dance, spoken word and more;
  • Restaurants featuring soul food to French cuisine and everything in between;
  • Unique ethnic retail shops;
  • Museums that celebrate various cultures;
  • Fine art galleries;
  • Majestic churches and gospel music;
  • Amazing landmarks;
  • Parks and free recreational activities;
  • Guest accommodations;
  • Free internet access and Wi-fi locations;
  • Authentic tours ofHarlem;
  • Annual events and festivals;
  • Sales & Deals

About the Authors

The authors are both homeowners and long-time residents of Harlem. Carolyn D. Johnson operates a tour company, a visitor’s center, and a website that provides information about Harlem under the umbrella of Welcome to HarlemValerie Jo Bradley operates a PR and special events planning firm and is proprietor of a small guest house inHarlem. In addition to collaborating with other Harlem-based tour companies to develop unique tours of Harlem, she has trainedHarlem residents to conduct tours in their neighborhoods.

Download the free Sutro World @ www.sutromedia.com/world and purchase the Harlem Travel Guide today for $2.99!

Follow Welcome to Harlem on:

Website www.welcometoharlem.com
Trip Advisorhttp://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1977036-Reviews-Welcome_to_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html