County's Black History Month Celebration Features 'Men of Bronze', 'Harlem's Rattlers' Feb. 21

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ELIZABETH, NJ - Union County's Black History Month Celebration event, featuring a screening of Men of Bronze, a rare 1977 documentary about the 369th Regiment in World War I, will be held February 21, beginning at 12:30 p.m., in the Student Development Building at Union County College in Cranford. The event is free and open to the public.

Keynote speaker Dr. Jeffery Sammons, Professor of History at New York University, will provide commentary on the film and present his book, Harlem's Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality, co-authored with John H. Morrow, Jr.

Dr. Sammons has taught at NYU since1989. He began his academic career at the University of Houston and as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town before being named, in 1987, a Henry Rutgers Research Fellow at Rutgers University - Camden where he completed his critically acclaimed book Beyond the Ring: The Role of Boxing in American Society. He has also taught at Princeton University and at Hollins University as a Jessie Ball du Pont Scholar.

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In 2001, Sammons was awarded a fellowship by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and History and soon after received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in support of what became Harlem's Rattlers and the Great War. He is a national senator of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and a member of the Museum and Library Committee of the United States Golf Association. He is currently at work on a book about race and golf.

Men of Bronze is the definitive story of the black American soldiers of the 369th combat regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters, who served with the French Army in World War I. They were also known as Harlem’s Rattlers. Although relegated to non-combat duty by the U.S. Command, the 369th was sent to France and spent more time in front-line trenches than any other American infantry unit.

Fighting alongside French, Moroccan and Senegalese soldiers at the campaigns of Champagne-Marne and Meuse-Argonne, the courageous men of the 369th distinguished themselves in some of the fiercest battles of the Great War. Men of Bronze uses photographs, interviews with veterans, and film from the French and American National Archives to recount the sage of the Harlem Hellfighters, offering an inspiring tribute to these unsung heroes and an unforgettable look at World War I.

The 2018 Black History Month Celebration is sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders through the Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs in the Department of Parks and Recreation, and is funded in part by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State.

The Student Development Building at Union County College is located at 1033 Springfield Avenue.

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