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The Harlem Hellfighters

by Max Brooks (Illustrated by Caanan White)

About the Book

The Harlem Hellfighters is a powerful account of the bravery and personal sacrifice of a troop of all African American soldiers from Harlem, New York, in the 369th Infantry. The Harlem Hellfighters spent more time in combat than any other American troop during WWI. They never lost a man through capture, lost a trench, or lost a foot of ground to the enemy. Although they fought valiantly and won countless decorations from the French government, the Harlem Hellfighters faced violence and discrimination in the country for which they fought. This story brings history to life and emphasizes the importance of recognizing some of the most courageous and significant soldiers to ever fight for our country.

About the Author

Max Brooks is an American horror author and screenwriter, as well as a television and voice-over actor. He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of World War Z, The Zombie Survival Guide, and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. In 2014, Broadway Books published The Harlem Hellfighters which is to be produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith as a six-hour series from the History Channel.

About the Illustrator

Caanan White began his professional comic art career in 2006 when he illustrated the graphic novel Ptolus. After becoming a freelance artist, he began work on Uber a World War II fiction series. Uber is an alternate history story of what may have happened if Hitler had succeeded in creating human weapons. Simultaneously, he also began work on the second title from Avatar Press, The Harlem Hellfighters, which he completed in 2011 to rave reviews.

Related Events

The Right to Fight and Serve: The Montford Point Marines

Monday, July 31, 2017, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library St NE

In June of 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, the first presidential decree issued on race since the Reconstruction era. The order barred government agencies and federal contractors, including the armed services, from refusing employment on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. For the first time, Marines would be required to recruit and enlist African Americans, who would be segregated to Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, NC. The Montford Point Marines faced racism, hatred, and violence. Sharon Stokes-Perry will share the story that echoes that of the Harlem Hellfighters and discuss the struggles still faced by African Americans and women in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Samuel H. Ranck: Librarian at War

Wednesday, August 2, 2017, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library St NE

When America entered World War I, librarians were called upon to provide balm to the triple psychological threat of war: boredom, terror, and grief. Samuel H. Ranck, Director of the Grand Rapids Public Library, was called to serve in France in 1918 and became the sole librarian casualty of war. While abroad, he took dozens of photographs and wrote hundreds of pages about his experiences and the people he met along the way. He captured insightful glimpses into the lives of African American soldiers and collected one-of-a-kind war propaganda like handbills and posters. Local history librarian Colleen Marquis will share information about the American Library Association War Service and the life of Samuel H. Ranck, adventure librarian.

Harlem Hellfighters: A Jazz Retrospective

Wednesday, August 16, 2017, 6:30 pm
Main Library – 111 Library Street NE

The great intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois implored African Americans to close ranks and join the fight to end the Great War. Although Black troops had to fight in segregated units in World War I, Du Bois understood that, historically, Black participation in the military produced advancements in civil rights. He noted that Black men would fight on two fronts, abroad in the war and back home for their civil rights. Join GVSU African American Studies Professor Louis Moore in a discussion about the Harlem Hellfighters. Following his presentation, the Steve Somers and Friends jazz band will perform while photos and rare film footage of the Hellfighters screens in the background.