The rousing story of the Double V Campaign, started during World War II to encourage Black Americans to fight for freedom overseas and at home.
When the United States entered World War II, young African Americans across the country faced a difficult dilemma. Why should they risk their lives fighting for freedoms in other nations that they did not have at home? The solution: fight two wars at once—for freedom abroad and freedom for Black people in America. A Double Victory!
In The Double V Campaign, Lea Lyon details this fascinating, little-known part of American history. A young journalist, civil service employee, and aircraft plant cafeteria worker named James G. Thompson came up with the simple yet powerful Double V slogan to represent the fight for victory against the enemy abroad and the fight for victory against racial discrimination at home. Lyon shows how the popular Black-owned newspaper the Pittsburgh Courier, along with other Black newspapers, activists, the NAACP, and others, used the Double V Campaign to push for changes in the segregation and discriminatory practices in the military and defense industry, and how the campaign influenced and enhanced the Civil Rights Movement to come.
The Double V Campaign gave voice to African American communities throughout the war and inspired hundreds of thousands to continue speaking up against discrimination in the years that followed. It is a powerful story of fighting for what is right, of fighting for change and equality even when those in positions of power are telling you to stop, and the strength of a united voice to effect change.
Lea Lyon is an award-winning author and illustrator and a former Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) San Francisco chapter. Her most recent books include It Rained Warm Bread—a middle grade novella by Hope Anita Smith with Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet and developed and illustrated by Lyon, which garnered a starred review from Kirkus, a 2019 Best Nonfiction Book in Verse for Young Readers from Kirkus, and an ALA Notable book for 2020—and Ready to Fly: How Sylvia Townsend Became the Bookmobile Ballerina by Lyon and A. LaFaye which was picked up by Scholastic Book Club, a 2021 Bank Street Best Children's Book, and included in the Independent Bookstore Kids Next list.
I am so grateful to Lea for writing this book about a little remembered and important part of history. James Thompson is one of my heroes and deserves his day in the sun. It will be so satisfying to know that through her work that will finally happen.
Lea Lyon has provided an interesting, well researched, and well written book on the Pittsburgh Courier's Double V campaign for more black rights in World War II. She does an excellent job of explaining a press campaign that deserves more public attention than it has received. Of particular significance is the amount of information on James G. Thompson, whose 1942 letter to the newspaper sparked the campaign. No other historian has delved as deeply into him as Lyon, and the result is a better understanding of a person who became very important in black history.
Features timeless photos from the era.
1/29/24, Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California: Lea Lyon was interviewed for this feature about the release of the book.
2/1/24, Choice: This title was included in the “Forthcoming Titles in African American Studies, 2024” roundup.