The Double V Campaign was an Black American initiative, led by the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper, that aimed to achieve a double victory (“Double V”) during World War II. The two objectives were victory in the war abroad and victory against discrimination on the home front.
How did it start?
The inspiration for the campaign came from a letter to the editor from 26-year-old James G. Thompson to the Pittsburgh Courier entitled “Should I Sacrifice to Live Half American?” The letter highlighted the discrepancy between Black American soldiers fighting for democracy abroad while being denied equality at home in the United States.
The sentiments of the letter inspired the Pittsburgh Courier, a prominent Black newspaper, to launch what it called the “Double V” campaign on February 7, 1942.
What was its purpose?
The campaign sought victory both overseas and in the United States. Abroad, victory was to be achieved by supporting the war effort, specifically through buying war bonds and stamps, contributing to blood banks, and conserving waste materials. At home, victory would be achieved by combating racial discrimination, with a focus on fighting the poll tax and political disfranchisement, seeking equality in education, and working for equal opportunity in the defense industry.
What was its impact?
From its origins in Pittsburgh, the popular campaign spread quickly to Black communities across the nation, some of which formed local “Double V clubs.” People supported the campaign in a variety of ways, from conducting demonstrations to wearing Double V pins.
The organized portion of the campaign petered out by 1943, but Black newspapers continued their support for the ideals it had embodied. Although the Double V Campaign ended without effecting any specific changes, it provided visibility for issues important to the Black community and helped boost morale. It is often seen as an early part of the Civil Rights movement.
Learn more about the Double V Campaign through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.