With pervasive protests against police killings of African Americans; plus a heightened alert of possible terrorism from abroad, Black America currently faces a situation reminiscent of the historic Double V campaign, led by Black newspapers in the 1940s, some justice advocates believe.
“We see, not only historic parallels, but we see a historical imperative that we become even more outspoken,” said Ben Chavis, president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Black Press of America. “And similar to the Double V movement of the past, we not only have to claim victory abroad, but victory at home. Victory at home means we must end the terrorism on Black America. In order to have an affective foreign policy, it must emanate out of our domestic policy. And so, as we end domestic terrorism, we will be stronger to end global terrorism.”
The Double V campaign, primarily led by the Pittsburgh Courier during World War II in early 1942, referred to Black American participation in fighting for victory against totalitarianism abroad while also fighting for victory against racism at home. The campaign is widely credited by historians as being the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.
Wade Henderson, president/CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, agrees that African Americans are fighting a dual battle akin to the historic Double V campaign.
“Black Americans are deeply concerned about ISIL and the possibilities of terrorism both at home and abroad,” he said. “But, at the same time we’re also concerned about the increase in police killings of Black men and the apparent increase in efforts by White supremacist groups to challenge African American protestors … I think the comparison has some legitimacy. Obviously, like all Americans, we are concerned about terrorism both abroad and at home and we support the president’s efforts to address it.”
President Barack Obama gave a televised pre-Thanksgiving statement Nov. 25, telling Americans to remain vigilant in the wake of threats by ISIS and other terrorist groups.
“Right now, we know of no specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland,” Obama said at the time, promising that he is “taking every possible step to keep our homeland safe.” The statement, intended to comfort Americans, came two weeks after ISIS claimed responsibility for the deaths of 130 people in a series of terrorist attacks in Paris and released videotaped threats on New York and Washington, DC. It also followed a local attack, where two “lone-Wolf” sympathezisers killed 14 people and wounded 21 others in San Bernardino.
Also, on the day before Thanksgiving, Obama encouraged Chicago protesters to remain peaceful following the video release of the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. He was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke as the teenager walked away from police officers, holding what appeared to be only a pocket knife Oct. 20, 2014. Van Dyke, who had 18 previous complaints against him, has been charged with first-degree murder, but only after a court ordered the release of the video, which President Obama described as “deeply disturbing.”
In response to the shooting, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., whose Rainbow/PUSH Coalition is based in Chicago, called for the resignations of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez As a result of immense public pressure, McCarthy eventually resigned and Alvarez’s job appears to be on the chapping block as well. In an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire, Jackson said another prong to the fight for justice by African Americans is the fight for urban reconstruction; especially in high-crime areas–those areas largely plagued by police shootings and street violence.
“In all of these cities, there are disparities in jobs, access to capital, healthcare, education and housing,” Jackson said. “Urban Blacks must be a part of a plan for reconstruction. In Baltimore, Chicago, nor St. Louis, there is no plan for reconstruction.”
Chavis applauded the thousands of youth who have taken to the streets in leadership against injustices by police over the past several years. He said as the 2016 elections come closer, that level of activism must be escalated.
“It appears that the issues that impact the quality of life of African Americans are not on the front priority agendas of those seeking to be the next president of the United States,” he said. “And I think that we cannot afford to be bystanders of the upcoming national election. We are probably going to need the largest voter turnout in our history to ensure that the country does not go backwards, but goes forward; not only on race relations, but on the issues of inclusion, on the issues of equal justice–not just equal political justice–but equal economic justice.”
Reflecting on the Double V campaign, Chavis concluded, “I find great reassurance as we study our past. We’ve had these difficulties before in our communities. And our fore parents rose to the occasion at every moment. And I am thankful that the Black Lives Matter Movement appears also to be regenerating some of the forceful audacity that’s necessary to challenge the contemporary forms of racial inequity and racial injustice that African Americans have to endure today.”