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By the end of 1917 a regiment of African-American soldiers had joined the trenches in France. By fighting with the “poilus”, under French command, they discovered both the horrors of war and another world entirely; a world where racial segregation did not exist.
The 15th regiment of the New York National Guard was exclusively made up of black soldiers. Nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters, this American unit was to be the most decorated of the Second World War. It was also the one that fought on the front line for the longest time: 191 days.
It was not only liberty and democracy that they came to defend with fieriness in France, but also racial equality. By fighting on the Old Continent, the descendants of slaves hoped to win another war – one that was waged in their own country: the war against segregation.
These African-American soldiers hoped that when they came back home they would finally be considered as full-fledged US citizens. Here is their story.