Thursday, February 28, 2019


Crowds lined the sidewalks of Manhattan’s 5th Avenue the morning of Feb. 17,1919. Thousands cheered, waving miniature American flags in the direction of 2,900 of the nation’s finest as they marched up the seven-mile route proudly sporting the Croix de Guerre — France’s highest honor — on the left breast pocket of their uniforms. Everyone of importance attended the welcome home parade dressed in their best attire, including New York State governor Al Smith and his wife, hoping to get a glimpse of the 369th Infantry Regiment.
The 369th, more commonly known as the Harlem Hellfighters — a name bestowed upon them by the Germans for their intensity on the battlefield, was an African-American unit that spent 191 days in combat during World War I, more than any other American outfit.
Within the ranks were unknown names with battle records that read like those of legends. One woman broke through a hoard of spectators and yelled praise, “Oh, you Black Death!” as Henry Johnson drove by in a Cadillac convertible, waving with one hand and grasping a bouquet of flowers in the other. The New York Tribune wrote that he was unable to walk due to a “silver plate in his foot, a relic of the memorable occasion.”
Sgt. Henry Johnson and the Harlem Hellfighters’ parade passes through New York in February 1919. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.
Other members carried instruments in exchange for their rifles. Their bandleader, James Reese Europe, was a tall, stern composer with circular eyeglasses who effortlessly instructed nearly 100 musicians playing popular jazz songs. “There were roars of welcome that made all the music of the day shrink into itself,” wrote one New York Times reporter.
The same reporter added that by the end of the gathering, “thousands and thousands of rattlesnakes, the emblem of the 369th, each snake coiled, ready to strike, appeared everywhere, in buttonholes, in shop windows, and on banners carried in the crowd.”
However, the celebration of the Harlem Hellfighters’ bravery faded with the parade car’s tail lights. Severe racism and segregation still existed in post-war America, creating insurmountable problems for veterans of the all-black unit.
The Harlem Hellfighters wave from the deck of a ship as they arrive home after World War I. Photo by Paul Thompson, courtesy of the War Department/National Archives.

Entering the Fight

As World War I raged across Europe, the Americans needed to decide how to best implement African-American troops if thrust into combat. The newly formed all-black regiment first redesignated from the “Old Fifteenth” 15th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard to the 369th Infantry Regiment prepared to be amongst the first units sent to France. The regiment selected a mix of black and white officers to lead an all-black enlisted force. They faced discrimination at every turn, with many of their white brothers in arms outright refusing to serve alongside them in the same battlespace.
The heroes’ welcome that they would receive when returning from the war was not foreshadowed when they left. Leadership from the 42nd Infantry Division, nicknamed the Rainbow Division (when Douglas MacArthur said their unit “stretched over the whole country like a rainbow”), denied their inclusion in the farewell tour because “black is not a color of the rainbow.” Military commanders had no purpose planned for the 369th when they arrived in France by ferry, which ended up being a saving grace for the French army.
Once in-country, Gen. John J. Pershing understood they were doing nothing more than stacking sandbags, unloading shipping cargo, and other laborious duties like laying railroad — tasks normally assigned to support battalions, not infantry regiments. Several written letters from Col. William Hayward, one of the few white officers of the command, described his predicament, “Our great American general simply put the black orphan in a basket, set it on the doorstep of the French, pulled the bell, and it went away.”
Ultimately, their pleas were heard, and their orders assigned them to 16th Division of the French Army. The French immediately taught “The Men of Bronze” how to win in trench warfare and other trade secrets to help them survive along the frontlines.

Black Death

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. called William Henry Johnson “one of the five bravest American soldiers in the war”; the Germans knew him as “Black Death.” The former railroad porter was petite in stature and weighed a mere 130 pounds. Johnson, his teammates, and the French faced combat patrols, raids, and artillery barrages for weeks, their mettle tested daily. But one particular night in May, in the face of intense hand-to-hand combat, their reputation as a fighting unit was sealed.
Henry Johnson in 1919. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.
While standing watch overlooking a bridge on the Aisne River during the graveyard shift (midnight to 4 AM) at a small forward outpost in the Argonne Forest, Johnson and 17-year-old Needham Roberts heard rustling in the darkness 50 yards out. Unbeknownst to them, two-dozen Germans in a raiding party planned to overwhelm, capture, and interrogate the soldiers.
The pair’s senses spiked; someone — something? — was not where it should be. Just as they realized that their barbed wire defenses were being cut, Johnson shot an illumination flare into the sky and Roberts rose to alert their forces. As he turned, a German grenade exploded and peppered his body with shrapnel, collapsing him to the ground. The night’s sky flashed with rifle fire, and they were pinned down. Johnson grabbed a nearby box full of hand grenades and pushed it next to the seated Roberts. As Johnson lobbed one after the other, Roberts reloaded magazines and prepared for their last stand.
In the confusion, Johnson loaded the wrong ammunition into his French-assigned rifle and fired off three shots center mass into a soldier’s chest before it jammed. With the Germans now on top of them, Johnson flipped his rifle around and raked a home-run swing, connecting with another raider’s head. Johnson watched two Germans pick up the badly injured Roberts and haul him away with the auspices of taking him alive. Without hesitation, Johnson unsheathed his 9-inch bolo knife, leapt onto the two enemy combatants, and plunged the knife into both of them.
“Every slash meant something, believe me,” Johnson said after the incident. “I wasn’t doing exercises, let me tell you.” During the melee, he was shot in the arm and stomach by an officer with a machine pistol before he neutralized that threat, too. When French and American forces heard the chaos, they came running. The Germans retreated, and Johnson passed out from blood loss and exhaustion. When the fighting was over and Johnson had time to reflect while healing, he said, “There wasn’t anything so fine about it, just fought for my life. A rabbit would’ve done that.”
Johnson and Roberts would be the first two Americans — and first two privates — to receive France’s highest honor, the Croix de Guerre. Johnson’s award included the Gold Palm for extraordinary valor.
Lt. James Reese Europe, famous jazz band leader, with the 369th Regiment. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Jazz Rumbled Through Europe

When the Harlem Hellfighters weren’t on the frontlines following the November 1918 armistice, they were touring parts of Europe as the most popular musical band spectators had ever seen. While Americans often ridiculed and scoffed at it, the citizens of France had differing views toward the then-unknown ragtime and jazz genres of music at the turn of the 20th century. One report penned by Walter Winston Kenilworth in the Music Courier in 1913 read:
“Can it be stated that America is falling prey to the collective soul of the negro [sic] through the influence of what is popularly known as ‘rag time’ music? If there is any tendency to such a national disaster, it should be definitely pointed out and extreme measures taken to inhibit the influence and avert the increasing danger — if it has not already gone too far.”
While the American media rejected any notions of innovative counterculture, jazz swept across France largely due to the influence brought by Harlem Hellfighter James Reese Europe. Europe was previously known for writing rhythm music for the famed Vernon and Irene Castle, the most popular tandem dance team in the world. The irony in a last name led the 369th Regimental Band to introduce a new flair beside talented drum major Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and his former right-hand man, Noble Sissle (before the war they were escorted through the side door to perform for exclusive, often white, clientele as a romping piano-vocal duo). At one of their first overseas concerts, Sissle recalled:
“The bandmaster’s baton came down with a swoop that brought a soul-crushing crash. Then it seemed the whole audience began to sway … The audience could stand it no longer; the ‘jazz germ’ hit them, and it seemed to find the vital spot, loosening all muscles.”
on Youtube
The jazz-germ struck anyone who lended an ear, including American Expeditionary Forces  (AEF) Gen. Tasker Bliss, who rose to his feet at the Théātre des Champs-Élysées in Paris at an August 1918 show.
“Who would have thought that little USA would ever give to the world a rhythm and melodies that, in the midst of such universal sorrow, would cause all students of music to yearn how to play it,” Sissle later said.
Their music brought culture-changing traditions to France, while Europe used his fame back in the States to make juke joints mainstream. On May 9, 1919, not long after he returned home, Europe was murdered by a jealous band member in Boston.

Almost Forgotten

Although the Harlem Hellfighters received a warm welcome upon their return to the United States, their musical influence lingered in Europe as evidenced by jazz queen Josephine Baker, who rose to notoriety during the mid-1920s. Ernest Hemingway called her “the most sensational woman anybody ever saw. Or ever will.”
Americans soon fell into old habits, and the stories of the Hellfighters became yesterday’s news. Life moved on for members who belonged to the now-historic unit. Spottswood “Spot” Poles, who was awarded five battle stars and a Purple Heart, went on to become one of the best baseball players in the Negro League. Myles A. Paige was a corporal who rose to company commander and later became the first African-American judge appointed to New York City Criminal Court. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Paige re-entered the military and retained the rank as a colonel.
A page from Horace Pippin’s notebook detailing his experiences in World War I, 1921. Photo courtesy of The Archives of American Art/Smithsonian Institute.
Artist and painter Horace Pippin is remembered for his firsthand account in the trenches written in composite books, often in pencil, sometimes in crayon. He described the horror as gas lingered beyond the trenches and the dogfights that circled above. He shared intimate details of watching friends die, close calls, and the time he was wounded by a German sniper. Pippin wrote as he lay in a pool of his own blood with shells exploding nearby; a French soldier found him but was shot through the face before he could speak, falling on top of him.
“He sank on me. I seen him comeing [sic] on but I could not move. I were just that weeke [sic]. So I hat [sic] to take him.” Night came with a rainstorm, and after passing out from blood loss, two French soldiers carried him off to receive life-saving medical treatment. Pippin returned home with his right arm paralyzed. He continued to paint, his work reflecting his life experiences.
The unit’s heroism finally received proper recognition in 2015 when President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Henry Johnson the Medal of Honor. The memory of the Harlem Hellfighters stands as a testament to the African-American soldiers who paved the way for positive change in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Revolutionary War: Animated Battle Map

Americans Are Ditching Public Transit Thanks to Capitalism In the end, public transit loses again, no matter how much money the government pours into it. by Chloe Anagnos

Americans don’t like public transit, and you can’t blame them. Inconvenience, ineffectiveness, and sluggishness are some of the main issues they often complain about when explaining why they aren’t taking the bus or riding the metro these days.
But while we’ve known this for quite some time, a new report from TransitCenter, a research and advocacy group, has now proven that even fewer people are relying on government-run transportation alternatives.
You can thank capitalism for that.
Thanks to the boom of the sharing economy, people never had as much access to efficient transportation options as they have now. And with entrepreneurs seeing an untapped opportunity in major urban settings, commuters are being given even more options as bike- and scooter-sharing companies are popping up everywhere.
Most importantly, Americans are getting into driving again.
With many regions benefiting from the availability of cheap gas and competitive automakers developing popular and affordable vehicles, U.S. commuters are dusting off their driving licenses and taking control of their own commuting schedules.
While Lyft and Uber are taking over certain densely populated urban areas, access to private cars is still beating public transit in most cities.

The report, which surveyed public transit riders from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Seattle, found that a quarter of the 1,700 respondents had gone from using transit “all the time” to being “occasional” riders. At least 9 percent of riders abandoned the public option completely.
In addition, the survey found that riders now have more access to cars, with 54 percent of respondents saying they were driving full-time as opposed to 43 percent the previous year. The number of users who said they had no access to a car also decreased from 27 to 21 percent. And while the survey does show that services like Lyft and Uber are taking over certain densely populated urban areas, access to private cars is still beating public transit in most cities.
While to some, these numbers may seem shocking, they confirm previous research showing that America’s use of public buses had fallen by 5 percent between 2016 and 2017.
Naturally, public transit advocates such as Ben Fried, the TransitCenter communications head, are not happy.
A government-run service will always have a major disadvantage when it comes to the market.

The congestion created by the increased use of private cars will eventually take its toll, advocates argue, and public transit officials need to work on making the system more efficient so they are “fast, affordable, convenient,” he told reporters.
But what transit advocates forget to mention is that, no matter how hard officials try to modernize the system, a government-run service will always have a major disadvantage when it comes to the market. And that’s because companies and entrepreneurs respond to real needs, providing a service where there’s a demand.
Government-backed services often act outside of reality, caving in to dreams of social order and equality without checking in with those who will actually be using the services. And that's simply because they do not have the proper knowledge of what residents actually need.
To a bureaucrat, small groups of individuals and their needs don’t matter. What’s important is to create one massive response that will, hopefully, work for everyone.
Unfortunately, government-backed programs have a bottomless pit of money. Other people’s money, that is.

Unfortunately, government-backed programs have one potential advantage over private ones, and that’s a bottomless pit of money. Other people’s money, that is.
Still, even this potential advantage is proven disadvantageous in the long run as companies with limited capital have all the more incentive to be truly efficient, forcing them to meet people’s demands so they can make a profit. In the end, public transit loses again, no matter how much money the government pours into it.

Green New Deal and ‘Children of the Corn’

Green New Deal and ‘Children of the Corn’: Conservative students come to DC for a March for Life and they get harassed. Little leftist progressive students come to DC and they harass adults.


Americans celebrate all races, religions, cultures, and creeds in order to remember, reflect, and learn from our ancestors’ trials and tribulations. Since 1976, every U.S. President has recognized the month of February as Black History Month, an ode to Harvard Historian Carter G. Woodson who created “Negro History Week” 50 years prior. The focus promotes the contributions and achievements of African Americans to society.
The month encourages people to remember the rebels, the war heroes, the people who were determined to make a difference and provoke change. The most notable — and recognizable — names are Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X for their influence in social justice; athletes like Jackie Robinson for breaking baseball’s color barrier and Ernie Davis for becoming the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner; and war heroes from all-black units such as the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company during the Korean War and the Harlem Hellfighters during World War I.

Queen of the Washington Underworld

The outcasts, troublemakers, and misfits are just as notable but often overlooked for their contributions to American history. Odessa Madre was one of these outcast troublemakers. She was dubbed “The Lady Al Capone of Washington, D.C.” and the “Queen of the Washington Underworld,” but she often went by Madre, which is what appeared on the license plate of her brand-new $10,800 Lincoln Continental that she purchased in 1968 after one of her many stints in the clink. 
Illustration by Travis Bentley/Coffee or Die.
Madre was a peculiar figure in her community and operated in male-dominated circles for nearly 50 years. She walked with an aura of class and sophistication, but she ran dodgy establishments to fuel her fortune. She was highly intelligent, wise in the streets and by the books. After graduating from Washington’s elite Dunbar Senior High School with honors in 1925, she began her life of crime at 17 because she knew that crime paid well. Referring to the other students at her school, Madre told Washington Post reporter Courtland Milloy, “They called me the ‘the big, black mutha with television eyes.’”
In the book “Sister Circle: Black Women and Work, the authors wrote, “To pursue a college education would have required Madre to join the Washington elite who had rejected her repeatedly. … Moreover, she would have found the underground world far more accepting of her homosexuality.”
Madre checked all the boxes to make her an outsider in upper-class circles: she self-described as ugly, was on the heavier side, and her flamboyant personality rubbed some the wrong way. And yet, she thrived in the criminal environment for decades, which is largely due to the fact she grew up amongst the split neighborhood of Cowtown (a name given because cows frequented small alleyways and were seen on every street corner) — half Irish and half black. The blacks and the Irish never fought each other, but they did fight together in the “Great Rock Chunkin Wars” against the Italian and German kids who lived on the other side of town.
These early relationships helped her crime syndicate grow into an empire because many of her Irish childhood friends went on to become captains, lieutenants, and powerful figures who filled the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Illustration by Travis Bentley/Coffee or Die.
Madre knew all the big-name gangsters in the city, and her connections in law enforcement looked the other way to her activities. She set aside “ice,” or protection payments, and said to Milloy, “You know, I practically ran that damn police department. I don’t know how many thousands of dollars I gave [Pat] O’Shea [a former superintendent of the police and childhood friend] to stay out on the streets.”
Another police detective, Robert Lee, who worked undercover vice during the 1960s, said she was able to reign for so long because of her ability to keep the peace amongst crime lords — and her overly generous pockets. “She was known as a counselor in the mob. She mediated disputes between blacks and whites, a referee. She kept a lot of people from getting hurt,” Lee told the Washington Post in a 1980 interview.

Friends in High Places

During her heyday in the 1930s and ’40s, she was earning $100,000 a year running a bookkeeping gambling business on the side, controlled narcotics rackets, sold bootleg whiskey per shot, or “Jill,” at her “Jill Joint,” and managed up to six brothels at one time. Her most prominent venture was amusing notable celebrities at her infamous nightclub, Club Madre, located at 2204 14 Street. NW. Today, that address houses a Bank of America and a smaller restaurant that offers Asian cuisine, a far cry from the atmosphere that once entertained the likes of rising jazz pianists Count Basie and Nat King Cole and professional boxer Joe Louis.
Madre flaunted her style with charisma, leaving a wake of women, or “yella gals,” within her entourage dangling from her arms when she entered the room. One rumored fling suggested that raunchy, ahead-of-her-time comedian Moms Mabley and Madre were lovers behind the scenes, while others suggest they were like sisters. Her extravagant parties would make the Wolf of Wall Streetblush. One police source that spoke in court while monitoring two court-ordered wiretaps in Madre’s home later said, “as a matter of course, Miss Madre set out a number of bowls of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana for her guests’ pleasure.” But when prodded in a later interview, Madre corrected that assessment: “Everybody knows I can’t stand them reefers.”


Even though Madre supported the poor with gifts, clothes shoplifted by boosters and wrapped nicely for disadvantaged children, and handfuls of cash, people started taking advantage of her kindness toward the end of her reign. The free passes from her hired help in the police department were exposed by 1952 when the Kefauver Committee cracked down on the corruption and Madre’s underbosses’ funnelled payments were revealed.
“Somebody had to give ’em money,” Madre once said. “If anybody was lucky enough to be able to get protection, it was because they was lucky enough to have my recommendation to the police. That’s how it worked. I would tell the police if you were okay, and if it was going to be worth their while. Then you give me the money — and I would make the drop. They wouldn’t take it from anybody.”
Odessa Madre and lawyer after testifying before a grand jury in Washington D.C., on Feb. 12, 1952. Photo courtesy of District of Columbia Public Library.
A common understanding of the criminal lifestyle is that if one continues down that path long enough, they will end up dead, broke, or in prison. Starting in 1932, Madre was arrested 30 times on 57 charges and spent a total of 13 years in jail, seven of those in federal prison beginning in ’61. She fought to keep her freedom for the next decade, but old habits die hard. She retired from the streets and died in 1990, broke at the age of 83. Her “friends” and all the people she once looked out for managed to scrape together a mere $51 for her funeral. Her family didn’t claim her body for eight days, but W.H. Bacon of the Bacon Funeral Home stepped in.
“She helped a lot of people,” Bacon said. “She deserved better. She gave me money to bury folks throughout the years.”
Before Madre died, Milroy asked her if it was all worth it. “If you show ’em that money,” Madre responded, “if you got a wad, honey, they’ll suck up to ya like you was a Tootsie Roll.”

From Historynet: Today in History February 28

1066          Westminster Abbey, the most famous church in England, opens its doors.

1574          On the orders of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, two Englishmen and an Irishman are burnt for heresy.

1610          Thomas West Image result for thomas west governor of Virginia. is appointed governor of Virginia.

1704          Indians attack Deerfield, Mass. killing 40 and kidnapping 100.

1847          Colonel Alexander Doniphan Image result for Colonel Alexander Doniphan and his ragtag Missouri Mounted Volunteers ride to victory at the Battle of Sacramento, during the Mexican War.

1861          The territory of Colorado is established.

1863          Four Union gunboats destroy the CSS Nashville near Fort McAllister, Georgia.

1900          After a 119-day siege by the Boers, the surrounded British troops in Ladysmith, South Africa, are relieved.

1916          Haiti becomes the first U.S. protectorate.

1924          U.S. troops are sent to Honduras to protect American interests during an election conflict.

1936          The Japanese Army restores order in Tokyo and arrests officers involved in a coup.

1945          U.S. tanks break the natural defense line west of the Rhine and cross the Erft River.

1946          The U.S. Army declares that it will use V-2 rocket to test radar as an atomic rocket defense system.

1953          Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia sign a 5-year defense pact in Ankara.

1967          In Mississippi, 19 are indicted in the slayings of three civil rights workers.

1969          A Los Angeles court refuses 
Robert Kennedy Image result for Robert Kennedy assassin 
Sirhan Sirhan's Image result for Sirhan Sirhan request to be executed.

1971          The male electorate in Lichtenstein refuses to give voting rights to women.

1994          U.S. warplanes shoot down four Serb aircraft over Bosnia in the first NATO use of force in the troubled area.