The History Channel, a.k.a that place where you watch Pawn Stars, Vikings, and that weird-haired guy who talks about aliens, is actually getting back into the history business… thanks to The Harlem Hellfighters, a graphic novel. The comic book industry says, “You’re welcome.”
Harlem Hellfighters, an amazing graphic novel about the U.S. Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment, is getting a six-hour limited series from History Channel. It’s being produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and James Lassiter’s company Overlook. Jeremy Passmore and Andre Fabrizio, the writers behind the Dwayne Johnson disaster flick San Andreas, will pen the script.
The graphic novel, penned by World War Z author Max Brooks, is about the first-ever African American regiment. They were assigned to the French forces during World War I as an insult, largely because many white American soldiers refused to serve with them. They were nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters” by the Germans because none of their soldiers were captured, and they never lost a trench or a foot of ground to the enemy. They returned to the U.S. as one of the most successful regiments of World War I, including receiving America’s first Croix de Guerre from the French government, but they still faced decades of discrimination and hatred.
Harlem Hellfighters was originally optioned as a movie, but given how powerful, nuanced, and necessary their story is, I’m glad it’s getting a longer series. Apart from the graphic novel, there are some excellent documentaries about the Harlem Hellfighters, including one from the History Channel, if you want an extra lesson on a true group of heroes.