Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Mon, 01.06.1941

Black History, and the WW II Double V Victory

WW II Double V Victory

*The Double V Victory of Black history is celebrated on this date in 1941. President Franklin Roosevelt gave his “Four Freedoms” speech on that date.

During World War II, the black press and several prominent black leaders called for a “Double V” victory against fascism abroad and against Jim Crow at home.   It was easy for African Americans to see the hypocrisy between conditions at home and the noble war aims of the President. And because of the gap between the promise and performance of American freedom when it came to race relations, many black people felt alienated from the war effort.

Led by the Pittsburgh CourierBaltimore Afro-American, and the Chicago Defender, the wartime black press attempted to bolster morale to promote the country’s war aims. However, doing so required a keen recognition of blacks' hardships during the interwar years. The Great Depression affected African Americans hard and hiring discrimination during the 1930s prevented black unemployment from improving. The readers of the black press were receptive to a more militant approach; black newspapers took a conservative effort to channel black militancy into nationalistic ends.

By seeking government concessions rather than supporting militant elements of the black masses, the black press sought to create an equal American identity so that black citizens could resolve struggles for full citizenship, freedom, and racial justice. With such a slogan, many historians regarded this campaign as the groundwork for many black revolts that characterized the 20th-century American civil rights movement. During World War II, African Americans made tremendous sacrifices to trade military service and wartime support for measurable social, political, and economic gains. Black communities nationwide participated enthusiastically in wartime programs while intensifying their demands for social progress.

The struggle for African American first-class citizenship during this period was in the workplace and training facilities throughout the nation.  HBCU colleges and universities made vital contributions to the defense program and, on a state level, directed training facilities and organized the African American war effort. By 1942, thousands of African Americans had enrolled in pre-employment courses throughout the South. Nearly 30 black colleges offered 50 new courses that covered topics such as mechanical arts, radio engineering, tool engineering, welding, electronics, boat building, nursing, sheet metal work, photography, internal combustion engines, production management, and nutrition.

Students received training in occupations that reflected a shortage of personnel in regional areas. Sixty-five black colleges participated in federal programs such as the Engineering, Science, and Management War Training (ESMWT) program. Twelve institutions had direct contracts with the federal government and offered 74 physics, mathematics, management, engineering, and chemistry courses. Seventy-five black colleges and universities somehow participated in the National Defense Program. About 80 percent of black colleges and universities changed their curricula to offer defense-related courses and training for the Double V Victory war effort.

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

I do not want to stand Beside you at the feast; You eat of rot. Or walk Beside you; your pace is not my pace. To follow You or be... MY OWN HALLELUJAHS by Zack Gilbert.
Read More