By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – As Taps was played in the Arlington National Cemetery and the President placed the wreath and held a moment of silence during the somber ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, controversy swirled as African-Americans continue to fight the ultimate Double V Campaign – for victory against terrorism and fascism abroad but also victory against racism here at home.
Traditional Memorial Day ceremonies went on without a hitch as Blacks and Whites together remembered their loved ones lost in military battles. But hovering in the atmosphere were the obvious issues that still prevail in the U. S., a civil war of sorts that has remained alive for centuries.
In a nutshell, the Double V campaign, primarily led by the Pittsburgh Courier newspaper during World War II, referred to Black American participation in fighting for Victory against fascism abroad while also fighting for Victory against racism at home. The campaign is widely credited by historians as being among the early catalysts for the Civil Rights Movement.
“The Double V Campaign that was so well articulated by the Pittsburg Courier during World War II had its antecedents in World War I, the Civil War and going all the way back to the Revolutionary War,” says Benjamin Chavis, president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Black Press of America. “Black Americans were some of the first to die for America to be born. And yet, almost 300 years later, we are still dying and America’s true promise of racial equality and racial justice has yet to be born.”
In that regard, despite the vast progress since the days of Jim Crow, the battles of 2018 are no less important. Especially 50 years following the racial watershed year of 1968, the racial battles that persist are glaring. Before during and after Memorial Day, these issues remained prominently on display:
–On Saturday, May 26, hundreds of citizens in Richmond, Va. gathered in the sanctuary of Second Black Church to protest the killing of yet another unarmed Black man by a police officer. Marcus-David Peters, 24, obviously mentally impaired, was shot dead May 15, when he confronted a lone police officer, Michael Nyantakyi. Despite the fact that the officer who shot Peters was Black, protestors lamented the fact that unarmed Black people across the nation are disparately killed by police officers.
–On May 29, the day after Memorial Day, Starbucks, a multi-billion dollar coffee restaurant franchise, closed 8,000 stores across the U. S. in order to give “anti-racial bias” training to its employees. The training was mandated after an April 12 incident in which two Black men, Rashon Nelson, 23, and Donte Robinson, 23, were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks after an employee called the police on them for sitting and waiting for a friend without making a purchase.
–Meanwhile, the National Football League on May 23 enacted a strict policy against its players “taking a knee” during the National Anthem as the players’ form of protest against racism and police brutality in America. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the new policy, which allows players to remain in the locker room while the National Anthem is played, but those who choose to be on the field must “stand and show respect.” Anyone kneeling would cause his team to be fined. Then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the move of “taking a knee” during the anthem in protest against rampant police violence against Black people. Civil rights leaders say the NFL’s new policy is antithetical to the freedom of speech rights for which the U. S. flag is supposed to stand. They also say policy makers are bent on controlling protests while ignoring the blatant injustices. On the morning after Memorial Day, Chavis tweeted, “The relationship between Black America and police in general across the nation is not good and beyond the point of a racial crisis that demands justice and resolution.”
–The injustices expand spectrums, including the economics arena. The National Urban League, in its annual State of Black America, reports racial income disparities at crisis levels. The median household income of White Americans is nearly 64 percent higher than that of African-Americans.
–National Home Ownership Month – the month of June – will be commemorated across the U. S. as a month of acknowledgement of the importance of home ownership as an accomplishment and sign of wealth. Yet, according to the Economic Policy Institute, two years ago, “the black homeownership rate was just over 40 percent, virtually unchanged since 1968, and trailing a full 30 points behind the white homeownership rate, which saw modest gains over the same period.”
In every major area of civil rights and social justice – also including health, education and criminal justice – Blacks lag woefully behind and justice battles across the U. S. remain pervasive. Black Press Historian A. Peter Bailey summed it up recently:
“The Double V Campaign to me was one of the greatest symbolic campaigns that I can think of. And I really wish that the Black Press had kept that: Victory over fascism abroad and over racism at home, victory over Communism abroad and over racism at home, victory over terrorism abroad and over racism at home,” Bailey said. “The concept was so powerful that it still should be the driving slogan of the collective Black Press because the country is still fighting the battle today against what it considers terrorism and Black people are still fighting the battle against racism.”
Chavis concluded, “You can’t separate one hand celebrating the contributions of Black veterans to America and the persistent fatal ramifications and the resurgence of White supremacy in America. There’s no energy more free than the Black Press of America to articulate the interests of Black America. That is why we’re going to have to show no reluctance to pull the sheets off of White supremacy from the White House to the police stations to Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force barracks in America and all over the world.”