House Passes Beatty Bipartisan Bill Honoring Harlem Hellfighters
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act, H.R. 3642, legislation introduced by Chair of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03), U.S. Congressman Tom Suozzi (NY-03), and U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 369th Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the ‘Harlem Hellfighters.’ The bill received the overwhelming bipartisan support of over 300 cosponsors.
“The Harlem Hellfighters risked life and limb in defense of an America that discriminated against them,” Beatty said. “Yet, the Hellfighters helped liberate Western Europe and secure victory for the Allied Forces.” She added, “More than 100 years after these brave men fought so valiantly, I am proud that my congressional colleagues have taken the long-overdue, critically important first step to honor the Harlem Hellfighters for their exemplary service on behalf of a very grateful nation.”
During World War I (WWI), the Harlem Hellfighters were not permitted to fight alongside their fellow White soldiers in the United States Army. Instead, they were assigned to the French Army who issued their weapons and helmets. Despite racism and outright oppression, the Harlem Hellfighters defended U.S. interests and our country, going on to become the most active WWI regiment.
Prior to the historic vote, Beatty addressed the nation from the House Floor to urge her colleagues to support H.R. 3642. Also, of note, Beatty is the author of Black History is American History Act, H.R. 1394, a bill that would mandate the inclusion of Black history as a required component of the American History and Civics Academies’ competitive grants administered by the U.S. Department of Education, incentivizing schools and educators to teach Black history like that of the Harlem Hellfighters in classrooms across the country.
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