Free lecture examines trials and accomplishments of African American unit in World War I

1913-style dinner precedes lecture at Cincinnati Museum Center

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center, in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati and National Endowment for the Humanities, is hosting a dinner and lecture with Jeffery T. Sammons and John H. Morrow, Jr., authors of the new book Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality. Reservations are required for the dinner which will take place at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 24 followed by the lecture at 7 p.m. at Cincinnati Museum Center.
As war broke out in Europe and spread across the globe in 1914, the nations of Europe and Asia sent their citizens and those of their colonies into battle. It truly became a world war with the front lines a blur of ethnicities, religions and races. When the United States entered the war in 1917 their fighting force did not resemble the diversity of their allies’ armies. The fighting men of the American army were white and would remain so throughout the war. However, one unit of African American soldiers, the 369th Regiment, found glory and equality on the battlefield and earned the nickname Harlem’s Rattlers.
The regiment was formed in 1916 as part of the New York National Guard and completed their training in South Carolina amid racism and threats of violence. Once the United States entered the war in 1917, the unit traveled to France but found itself relegated to labor service duties rather than a combat role. It was soon transferred to the French Army where it not only served in a combat role, it excelled, never losing a foot of ground or a soldier as prisoner to the enemy. Their French comrades treated them as equals and respected them as soldiers and men.
Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War reveals the poignant history of the 369th Regiment and authors Sammons and Morrow will share some of the unit’s incredible stories during their lecture on June 24. Listen to Sammons highlight Ohio’s important but little-known connections to the 369th Regiment. Learn about Charles W. Anderson, one of Booker T. Washington’s most trusted operatives and a native of Oxford, Ohio. And find out more about Captain Charles Ward Fillmore, born in the Xenia/Springfield area and perhaps the person most responsible for the existence of the 369th Regiment. Then hear Morrow recount stories from the Harlem Rattlers in France in 1918 where they worked as laborers before serving on the front lines with the French Army. A book signing will follow the lecture.
Harlem’s Rattlers & the Great War is part of Cincinnati Museum Center’s Insights Lecture Series and is free and open to the public. For more information and to reserve your seat, please visit
Harlem’s Rattlers & the Great War is presented as part of “Cincinnati Remembers World War I,” a citywide series of events commemorating the centenary of the First World War and anticipating Cincinnati Opera’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night in July 2014. For more information, please visit The lecture is also part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, World War I and the Arts: Sounds, Sights, Psyches, at the University of Cincinnati.