The United States officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917. One of the first infantry regiments to arrive in France was the 369th Infantry. This infantry is more commonly known as the “Harlem Hellfighters.” This infantry was entirely made up of African Americans under the command of white officers. The Harlem Hellfighters fought with the French at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood. These two battles stopped the Germans from advancing which led to a counterattack on the Germans. The Harlem Hellfighters fought in combat for 191 days, longer than any other American regiment.
The United States army drafted both black and white men but served in segregated regiments. More than 200,000 African American soldiers were sent abroad during the war. Besides fighting on the front-lines, they also played an essential supporting role in building trenches, bridges, and roads.
Image taken from the National Archives.