Filed under: Art
The building itself is worth a visit all on its own: it dates back to 1933 and is Art Deco in style. It was built for the only, solely African American unit of the New York National Guard at that time. The 369th Regiment had already distinguished itself as the first all-African American unit sent to battle overseas, which it did during World War I, albeit under French command due to segregation policies of the US Army.
The men of the "Harlem Hellfighters", as they became known, were greatly decorated. Members were awarded the Croix de Guerre by France -- Private Henry Johnson of this regiment was the first American to ever be so honored -- as well as the US Congressional Medal of Honor, among many other honors. What's more, the regiment's jazz band included many Harlem musicians, and has been credited with introducing jazz to Europe. (Another musical history note, Rafael Hernandez Marin, the celebrated Puerto Rican composer also served in this regiment.) Read more about the history of the regiment here (PDF).