Congressional Gold Medal Awarded to Harlem Hellfighters

In mid-August, the Senate passed the Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act to award a Congressional Gold Medal to a Black infantry regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters.

The Harlem Hellfighters, the 369th Infantry Regiment, are regarded as the most celebrated African American regiment in World War I, having fought against Germany’s forces longer than almost any other American WWI soldiers. The regiment was mostly made up of New Yorkers, with the majority of the enlistees hailing from Harlem.

“The Harlem Hellfighters served our nation with distinction, spending 191 days in the front-line trenches, all while displaying the American values of courage, dedication and sacrifice,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement.

“The Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act honors these brave men, who, even as they faced segregation and prejudice, risked their lives to defend our freedoms,” Gillibrand added.

As noted by Gillibrand, the Harlem Hellfighters were assigned to the French army due to many white American soldiers refusing to go into battle with Black soldiers.

The Hellfighters are the third African American military group to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, after the Tuskegee Airmen in 2007 and the Montford Point Marines in 2011, both of whom fought in World War II.

The Hellfighters received their nickname from their German adversaries who called them “Hollenkampfer” for their strength. Their French comrades also called them “Hommes de Bronze” or “Men of Bronze.” Many Harlem Hellfighters received the Croix de Guerre, a French military World War I decoration awarded for valor.

Tito Puente to Face Duke Ellington’s Nick Garber reports that Manuel Vega has a new proposal (presented to CB11) for a Tito Puente sculpture at 110th and 5th, facing the existing Duke Ellington sculpture.

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