PVAMU Band Students Participate in 369th Band for Armistice Centennial in D.C.

As the nation honored its veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces during the recent Veterans Day weekend, several PVAMU students played a major role in remaking history in Washington, D.C. as part of the festivities.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice, a recreation of the 369th Regimental Band made up of students from historically black colleges played a tribute to the Harlem Hell Fighters by recreating the music of the 369th Regimental Band at John J. Pershing Park, where the World War One Centennial Commission is currently in the process of creating the first ever WWI Memorial in Washington.

Eleven university students are members of The 369th Experience band; those who attended this event included Jacob-Paul Tatum, David Burrows, Jarrod Henry, Stanico Knowles, David Otinwa, Christopher Quiroz, Shawn D. Smith, Jr., Allan Theodore, Craignal Wright, and Khalil Deandra. (One student, Issac Dodoo, was ill and did not attend.)

“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to travel far with a great group of individuals across the other HBCUs. The music itself is amazing, and I’m glad to be a part of this reenactment,” Henry, a junior music education major and tenor saxophone player, said. “Although we felt we had a great responsibility to fulfill, it felt pretty awesome to be able to celebrate our heroes of war and recognize the past band.”

“The purpose of this band performance was to finally commemorate and honor the 369th Regimental Band’s work in the war,” Tatum, a junior construction science major and tuba player, said. “They were one of the most decorated and deserving units in the war, having several awards and accolades that needed to be recognized and never were.  It was an honor getting to represent them in the final tour they would’ve done and recognize what they did for our country.”

Other highlights of the trip included performing at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian, among other venues, as well as meeting Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of legendary musician Duke Ellington, who was revolutionizing the music world at the time, Tatum said.

“Meeting her was an honor, and it’s evident that she, too, is representing her family and legacy in a positive way,” Tatum said.

“I also want to acknowledge the work of executive producer Stephany Neal in coordinating this trip for my fellow bandmates and me,” he said. “It was an honor to participate and perform with a diverse group of students from HBCUs around the country, as well as several Hispanic band members showcasing cultural diversity in the unit.”

By Emilia Benton