Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Democracy Abroad. Discrimination at Home: Black Soldiers During The Great War

This month we'll be looking at the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, one of the most decorated American army units in World War I. Originally the 15th New York National Guard, and limited to white officers and given menial tasks, the unit of New York born soldiers were exposed to the full brunt of Jim Crow racism during their training in Spartanburg South Carolina. Ironically, this experience may partially account for the Hellfighters legendary discipline.

"What separates a soldier from a civilian is discipline — the notion of mental control and the notion of restraint,"says Max Brooks, author of a graphic novel history of the unit. "I don't think any soldier, short of a samurai, has shown more restraint than the Hellfighters at Spartanburg."

Renamed the 369th Infantry Regiment, the Hellfighters went on to be come one of the most feared and respected American units, earning the French Croix de Guerre for 171 members, and one for the unit as a whole.

Yet despite their bravery, and the adulation they received from France, the Hellfighters returned to the same racism they had left behind, culminating in the riots of the Red Summer of 1919.

Join us Tuesday February 17th as we discuss, A More Unbending Battle: The Harlem Hellfighters' Struggle for Freedom in WWI and Equality at Home . Unfortunately, we are low on copies, so I've also pulled 4 other books on the Hellfighters which you can read instead (ignore the "checked out" message: these are on hold at the 2nd floor desk):

by Bill Harris

By Stephen Harris.
by Patrick Lewis
by Max Brooks, (this one's a graphic novel!)

aaannnddd...what an excellent time to check out the wonderful 2 part documentary. ..
 To reserve any of these materials, call us at 847-448-8620. See you on February 17th!

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