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The Double V Campaign of World War II

The Double V Campaign was launched by a prominent black newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier, in 1942. The campaign came in response to buzz generated from a letter written by a young black man, James G. Thompson. His article, entitled, “Should I Sacrifice to Live ‘Half-American”, broke barriers and started a conversation nationally that many blacks had been having for generations.

As the nation claimed victory in World War II, many black veterans carried their excitement back home. The charge was clear: victory over fascism abroad and victory over racism at home. This assertion came in response to decades of expecting African-Americans to choose patriotism in times of war, but not experience equal protection of the law at home.

In this episode of ‘Black History in Two Minutes or So’ hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. — with additional commentary from Farah Griffin of Columbia University and Peniel Joseph from the University of Texas — we explore a campaign that ignited many African-Americans to take down Jim Crow laws and become key players in the civil rights movement.

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