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world war ii

Explain the meaning of the "Double V" campaign and describe what changes it achieved.


The Double Victory campaign was announced on February 7, 1942, about two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor had thrust the United States into World War II, in an African American newspaper called the Pittsburgh Courier. Its catalyst was a letter written by a reader from Kansas named James Thompson titled "Should I Sacrifice to Live Half-American?" Thompson questioned whether colored Americans would see any improvement in their lives or be forced to suffer the same indignities in the future that they suffered at present. In the military, African Americans were relegated to the most menial tasks, and segregation among troops was an official policy. The Double V represented the V for victory that was so popular among the Allied countries and an additional V to stand for a victory over the prejudices against people of color that threatened the freedoms of all American people.

The Pittsburgh Courier was the most popular black newspaper in the country at the time. Well into 1943, the Double V Campaign ran weekly along with patriotic appeals to purchase war bonds. The campaign was extremely popular among African Americans. In a survey in October 1942, around 90 percent of readers responded favorably to it. The Double V insignia continued to appear in the paper until September 1945. In 1946 it was replaced by a single V, indicating the victory that still remained to be won for equal rights for African Americans in the United States.

The Double V Campaign helped to achieve at least two major milestones following the end of World War II. In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to sign with a major league baseball team. This opened the color barrier for many other talented black athletes. Additionally, on July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed an executive order calling for the desegregation of the US military.

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