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Every Memorial Day, I like to remind people about the Double V campaign. It was started in 1942 by the Pittsburgh Courier, an historic African-American newspaper, just as the United States entered World War II. “Double V” stood for “Victory Abroad and Victory at Home.” The purpose of the campaign was to call continued attention to the legal injustices and segregation that blacks dealt with as American citizens on American soil and as soldiers abroad within the (segregated) armed forces. Naturally, J. Edgar Hoover considered the Double V Campaign an act of sedition. When Black Americans were hesitant to serve in the military for a country in which they were legally treated as second class citizens, there was no understanding, only accusations of treason.

To appreciate the role of the Pittsburgh Courier in this campaign, keep in mind that white newspapers did not cover Blacks unless there was a crime involved or, of course, if the Black in question was an athlete or an entertainer. White newspapers did not cover our births, deaths, weddings or any other slice of life-type activity that we did just like everyone else. That is why, in part, Ebony magazine was born. And they certainly did not report on racial discrimination (especially within the military who banned black newspapers from its libraries during the Double V Campaign) the way the Black press did.

The picture above was taken in 1942 on 119th Street, between Lenox and 7th (now Malcolm X Blvd and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd).

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