Waged by African Americans during World War II, the Double V campaign argued that blacks deserved full civil rights and victory over racism at home. Three important aspects came about in New York City concerning this problem.
The first problem concerned the fight against the Red Cross blood segregation. African Americans were outraged that they were unable to support a noble cause by donating their blood over simple matters such as racism. In its article, “Red Cross to Use Blood of Negroes” the New York Times is the first to condemn this policy. The article recalls Republican Marantonio and other New York delegates who went over to the Red Cross Headquarters to protest. After a consultation between this New York delegation and the chairman of Red Cross, all Red Cross chapters and donor centers across the nation reversed its policies based on “separate but equal”. New York City leaders such as these, not only directed the way for Civil rights locally, but for the nation as a whole.
The second problem concerned Stuyvesant Town, a private residential development in New York City that was controversial in terms of discrimination against blacks. In an Oral History project about Lee Lorch, he recalls this “serious moral dilemma” where he was a leader among tenants who was “willing to combat from inside the struggles to change the policy”. When he lost his job in New York, instead of giving up his home in Stuyvesant Town, they invited a black couple to live in his apartment. Lorch’s actions and many others like him would eventually inspire the open-housing movement that made housing discrimination illegal nationwide.
Then there was the Negro Freedom Rallies, where throughout 1943 and 1945, people came together at Madison Square Garden to launch awareness for the African American struggle for equality. Putting it on the city’s broad cultural landscape, the rallies attracted a wide variety of the black community. There were Broadway salutes, performances by Langston Hughes, and even yearly tributes to Negro woman who played prominent importance in the war effort. This movement wasn’t just an entertainment show, but a calling out to all races of the community. Because the Negro Freedom Rallies chose NYC to host and publicize its struggles, this reinforced the city’s leadership among other parts of the nation. It showed that New York was home to more than just the white family, but also black families as well.
So whether it was the local leader, the local neighbor, or even the community as a whole, the Double V campaign played a significant role for every New York citizen. It paved the way for changing the racist opinions and policies of New York politics.
Primary Source (the video)
Bagli, Charles. “A New Light on a Fight to Integrate Stuyvesant Town.” New York Times, November 21, 2010, N.Y./Region sec. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/22/nyregion/22stuyvesant.html (accessed October 8, 2014)
Biondi, Martha. “Prologue.” In To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City, 10. Harvard University Press, 2009.
Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 1942. RED CROSS TO USE BLOOD OF NEGROES. New York Times (1923-Current file), Jan 29, 1942. http://search.proquest.com/docview/106217790?accountid=14244 (accessed October 8, 2014).