In May of 1917, President Wilson ordered the enlistment of all able-bodied men, black or white. More than 350,000 African Americans trained to serve their country in mostly segregated camps.
A short documentary about the African American men who fought in WWI. Produced for the They Came to Fight: African Americans and the Great World War project.
A quick clip from a wonderful documentary concentrating on the wartime experiences of James Reese Europe, the extraordinary band leader of the 369th Infantry Regiment. Shortly after the war, Reese was murdered in Boston.
The 369th may have been seconded to the French army, but it was up to the French how they would be used. And their need was for combat troops.
The 369th was in combat longer than any US unit in WW1. They liberated towns. They were the first Allied soldiers to reach the Rhine. They won 171 decorations. Two Harlem Hellfighters were especially honored for fighting off an attack on their tiny outpost by 24 Germans.
And that nickname, the Hellfighters? The Germans gave them that.