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Double V

the civil rights struggle of the Tuskegee Airmen

Lawrence P. Scott

Publication Year: 2012

On April 12, 1945, the United States Army Air Force arrested 101 of its African American officers. They were charged with disobeying a direct order from a superior officer—a charge that could carry the death penalty upon conviction. They were accused of refusing to sign an order that would have placed them in segregated housing and recreational facilities. Their plight was virtually ignored by the press at the time, and books written about the subject did not detail the struggle these aviators underwent to win recognition of their civil rights. 
     The central theme of Double V is the promise held out to African American military personnel that service in World War II would deliver to them a double victory—a "double V"—over tyranny abroad and racial prejudice at home. The book's authors, Lawrence P. Scott and William M. Womack Sr., chronicle for the first time, in detail, one of America's most dramatic failures to deliver on that promise. In the course of their narrative, the authors demonstrate how the Tuskegee airmen suffered as second-class citizens while risking their lives to serve their country. Among the contributions made by this work is a detailed examination of how 101 Tuskegee airmen, by refusing to live in segregated quarters, triggered on e of the most significant judicial proceedings in U.S. military history. Double V uses oral accounts and heretofore unused government documents to portray this little-known struggle by one of America's most celebrated flying units. 
     In addition to providing background material about African American aviators before World War II. the authors also demonstrate how the Tuskegee airmen's struggle foretold dilemmas faced by the civil rights movement in the second half of the 20th century. Double V is destined to become an important contribution in the rapidly growing body of civil rights literature.


Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix

Although the subject of this poem was the Mrican-American soldier in World War I, its relevance rings true for the Mrican-American soldier who, in World War II, risked his life fighting in foreign lands for the freedom of others while democracy escaped him in the land of his birth. Fighter Group, and 477th Bombardment Group, better known as the ...

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pp. 14-17

As America mourned the death of President Roosevelt on 12 April 1945, another tragic event, which occurred the same day, went unprecedented in the history of the U.S. Army, arrested 101 African American pilots, navigators and bombardiers for disobeying a direct order from a superior officer. The officers were charged with violating the 64th Article of War-a crime that, in wartime, carried a penalty of ...

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1. By Any Means Necessary

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pp. 18-37

Plans for war defined the waves of national enthusiasm that swept over the European peoples during the summer of 1914. Soon after the events at Sarajevo, governments mobilized their massive military resources and prepared to defeat their respective enemies. Most Europeans thought the conflict would be over in a matter of months; almost none foresaw a struggle that would drag on for four long years, ...

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2. Phoenix

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pp. 38-47

Even the racism and segregation in Chicago that precipitated the riots of 1919 could not stop a twenty-six-year-old Negro manicurist and chili parlor owner from chasing her dream of becoming a pilot. embraced the new and dangerous vocation of aviation at a time when Negroes and women, and especially, Negro women, were not taken seri ously. Like Bullard, Ms. Coleman's achievements were obscured by ...

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3. Giant Steps

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pp. 48-73

The early thirties were painful years for many American citizens. For Negroes, however, they were even more so-it was physically America. Even more remarkable, then, were the survival tactics and the resiliency exhibited by the Negro community. The hard times devel oped men and women of character and daring, individuals who pushed at life's outer seams and frontiers to achieve freedom. This was espe ...

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4. The Movement

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pp. 74-89

Remarkably, in 1936, there were over one hundred licensed Negro airplane pilots. l Chicago, with over 30 percent of the Negro licensed pilot<; in the country, continued to be the center of Negro aviation. These forward-thinking men and women of the Challenger Air Pilots Association, led by the experienced Cornelius Coffey, were of the best the Chicago area could offer. By late 1937, the Challengers had ...

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5. The Negro Aviator and the Military

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pp. 90-119

By 1937, the threatening Nazi movement displayed aggression by overtaking Austria, the Japanese invaded Manchuria and Indochina, the Italians occupied Ethiopia, and the Axis pact was signed by all three countries. The colonizing countries of Western Europe, particularly France and England, began to prepare for war. l Although the contiguous United States was not immediately vulnerable ...

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6. America Prepares for War: African Americans Not Wanted

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pp. 120-159

After Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939, and World War II was declared in Europe, the Roosevelt administration knew that American involvement was a strong possibility. Although the United States's official stance was one of neutrality, its actions aligned it with England and France and pitted it against Germany. An Asian war had broken out one year prior and the neutral United States cur ...

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7. The Experiment: The “Smoke Screen”

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pp. 160-213

In late 1940, after several months as civilian aide to the secretary of war, Judge Hastie had the opportunity to review the Army Air Corps National Defense Plan and its employment of Negro troops. Initially, Hastie objected to the utilization of racial segregation in the Air Corps plan for the employment of ~egroes in aviation squadrons. Hastic viewed the Tuskegee training site as a wasteful and an expensive use of ...

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8. War on Two Fronts

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pp. 214-291

An unsuspecting Colonel Davis received orders on 2 September 1943 to return to the United States to train and command the all-black 332nd Fighter Group stationed at Selfridge Air Base, near Detroit. Davis had harbored no illusions about commanding a fighter group. He was painfully aware of his role, and that of his men, as subjects in an Department, and black America. He and his men knew of the potential ...

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9. Beyond the Call of Duty

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pp. 292-299

Several men of the 332nd Fighter Group were involved in heroic actions. A few of these men served beyond the call of duty, in self-sacrificing deeds, even to the extent of losing the limited per August 1944, the four squadrons were ordered to strafe the coastal radar sites that the Germans would use to detect invading aircraft. The 332nd Intelligence knew that if the radar installation were destroyed, ...

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10. Epilogue: Before the Brown Decision

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pp. 300-321

With the end of hostilities in Europe, the men of the 332nd came home to segregated reception centers and local separation sta tions. There were no New York ticker-tape parades, such as those given in honor of the Negro soldiers of World War I, and no marching At that time in America, in 1945, Negro soldiers and veterans of World War II were not wanted, and were mistreated by white civilians, ...


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pp. 322-331


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pp. 332-351

E-ISBN-13: 9780870139536
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870135026

Page Count: 330
Publication Year: 2012