Q:

What was the WWII Double V campaign?

A:

The Double V campaign was launched in 1941 as a call for African Americans to fight fascism in Europe and racism in the United States. Sponsored by the NAACP, the National Urban League and the black press, this action was seen as an opportunity for promoting equality.

In 1941, the year the United States entered World War II, the "Philadelphia Courier" published a letter from James Thompson, a young, black cafeteria worker, who questioned whether he could defend a nation that treated him as a second-class citizen. Thompson called for a "double V" approach to fighting for victory over the fascism of "enemies from without" and over the continued prejudice of "enemies from within," focusing attention on the injustices of Jim Crow-style racial segregation in the armed forces and in the states. This public criticism led to the banning of black newspapers from military libraries and to J. Edgar Hoover's seeking to charge black publishers with treason. The publishers met with the U.S. attorney general and struck a deal that allowed them to print the truth so long as they didn't escalate opposition to the war. The Double V campaign bolstered the spirits of black soldiers and strengthened African American commitments to fighting for equal rights.


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