Henry Johnson And The Harlem Hellfighters

Although Americans identify the concepts of democracy and freedom as the motivation for the country's entry into World War I, they often don't associate that period with racism and racial segregation. The 369th Infantry Regiment from Harlem, an all African-American unit that faced discrimination, statistically outfought their white counterparts in battle. An informative video highlights several of the unit's members, using their stories to help show daily lives of African Americans during this time. 

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Ask learners to view and identify the disconnect between American motives for fighting in World War I and the experience of African American troops
  • Use the video as an introduction to a study of race relations during World War I
Classroom Considerations

  • Strong language includes discussion of rape and racism
  • One part of a larger series on World War I
Pros

  • Video uses intriguing pictures to engage students
  • Themes and questions raised during the video could prompt deep class discussions around racial inequalities
Cons

  • None
Common Core