Deadline announced today that Moonlight and All Day and a Night star Ashton Sanders has secured both TV and film rights to Peter Nelson’s nonfiction novel, A More Unbending Battle: The Harlem Hellfighter’s Struggle for Freedom in WWI and Equality at Home. If you’re unfamiliar, the official book description reads as follows:
A More Unbending Battle chronicles the little-known story of the 369tC Infantry Regiment—the first African-American regiment mustered to fight in WWI. Recruited from all walks of Harlem life, the regiment had to fight alongside the French because America’s segregation policy prohibited them from fighting with white U.S. soldiers. Despite extraordinary odds and racism, the 369th became one of the most successful—and infamous—regiments of the war. The Harlem Hellfighters, as their enemies named them, spent longer than any other American unit in combat, were the first Allied unit to reach the Rhine, and showed extraordinary valor on the battlefield, with many soldiers winning the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor. Replete with vivid accounts of battlefield heroics, A More Unbending Battle is the thrilling story of the dauntless Harlem Hellfighters.
Sanders is expected to portray Henry Johnson, the most revered member out of the group, who fought off a German raid while suffering 21 bodily wounds—saving fellow soldier Needham Roberts in the process. In 2015, Johnson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama.
“Since the moment I discovered this incredibly rich piece of history documenting the Harlem Hellfighters, I have wanted to bring the stories of these courageous and inspiring men to life,” Sanders told Deadline. “In addition to the war, some of the most moving chapters are about the politics involved in the recruitment of these men as well as their reassimilation into society after the war.”
The 25-year old Native Son star is set to produce the adaptation under his 1237 Production company. He can be seen next in the war drama, The Things They Carried with Stephan James as well as Warner Bros’ Judas and the Black Messiah alongside Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield. He can currently be seen opposite Jeffrey Wright in All Day and a Night on Netflix as well as Wu-Tang: An American Saga on Hulu.