WWI: HONORING OUR HISTORY AND THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS
As February comes to an end, we would like to focus on and commemorate a piece of our history, one of the most decorated units in WW1, the Black Regiment, “The Harlem Hellfighters”. Like so many others in the nation's history, many who were overlooked, forgotten, or undervalued, we would like to honor these warriors.
In WWI, these heroes were officially the 369th Infantry Regiment based out of Harlem, however many know them for their acclaimed title, “Harlem Hellfighters”. Originating from New York, it was created by black communities that wished to serve in the National Guard. Once deployed to Europe, they faced many hardships, being assigned to only labor duties and not allowed to actual combat due to racial tension and they were viewed as incapable of fighting.
The Harlem Hellfighters were assigned to the French Army as they desperately needed reinforcements. This effort worked to satisfy the French who demanded U.S. soldiers and to satisfy the U.S. White soldiers who did not want to fight alongside African-American soldiers. After landing in France, they were welcomed and immediately made their mark and distinguished themselves by their bravery.
The 369th stayed engaged in combat and fought longer than any other American unit in the war, for a total of 191 days under fire. Never losing a foot of ground or taking any prisoners, they were nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters" by the Germans. We can honor these brave men by remembering their tenacious efforts and their spirit.