Date of this Version
Published in Black Music Research Journal Vol. 33, No. 2, Fall 2013
The black regimental bands and their bandmasters in U.S. Army service between the Civil War and World War I comprised a fluid yet tight little community of soldier-musicians. Conspicuous in their own day, these units and their leadership teams are by no means familiar to modern readers. Replacement of white by black bandmasters in this community in the first decade of the twentieth century represented in its day an important public battle in the struggle for civil rights and racial fairness in the military. The following narrative offers a fuller account of this battle than has previously been available, but—full warning—the story is going to get a little dense. A bit of necessary background will begin to set the stage.