In January, 1942, the editor of the Pittsburgh Courier, a leading, well-respected African American newspaper, posed the question “Why should I sacrifice my life to live half American?” Beginning in February, the Courier ran the Double V Campaign, demanding equality for all. The campaign received overwhelming support from black leaders and readers all over the country.
Racial discrimination had always been practiced in all branches of the Armed Forces in this country even after World War II had been declared. But African Americans began to question why they should fight in a war for a country that treated them like second class citizens. Black soldiers were housed in substance conditions, often far from base conveniences, such as churches, movies and even the Post Exchange or PX. They were given menial jobs working as janitors or in the mess halls, and not really trained for any kind combat duty.
Michael L. Cooper traces the history of the campaign from it beginnings to the end of the war and beyond. Change first began with the construction of Fort Huachuca in Arizona, an all black base that was at least built on the same standard as the white bases. There, the Ninety-third Division was first formed and trained for combat in the Pacific against the Japanese. He tells about other heroes who performed so gallantly on both the Western and the Pacific fronts. Cooper ends with the awarding of the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest honor, to seven African American soldiers from World War II. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen until 1997, when President Clinton had the honor of recognizing their contributions. It was a long time coming!
This book is recommended for readers age 11 and up.
This book was borrowed the Yorkville Branch of the NYPL.
For more information on The Double V Campaign, see Newspapers - The Pittsburgh Courier and
Fighting For Democracy - African Americans
Non-Fiction Monday is hosted this week by Wild About Nature