“The Double V,” short for “The Double Victory,” is a term first mentioned in a letter sent to The Pittsburgh Courier by an activist. The letter reads, “Let colored Americans adopt the double VV for a double victory; the first V for victory over our enemies from without, the second V for victory over our enemies within. For surely those who perpetrate these ugly prejudices here are seeking to destroy our democratic form of government just as surely as the Axis forces.” The Double V, then, represents the simultaneous struggle against America’s enemies around the globe and against those Americans whose prejudices debase America from within. The Double V is a guiding principle for the black female computers at Langley who are uniquely identified with this concept, since they dedicate themselves professionally to serving their country during wartime and personally to proving their abilities in the face of discrimination, as well as uplifting other black Americans. The Double V does not only apply to the black computers at Langley, of course—it also encompasses black soldiers, progressive whites working to integrate the Civil Service, and black families working in the war effort.
The Double V Quotes in Hidden Figures
Readers of black newspapers around the country followed the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen with an intensity that bordered on the obsessive. Who said a Negro couldn’t fly! Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Jr. and the 332nd Fighter Group took the war to the Axis powers from thirty thousand feet. The papers sent special correspondents to shadow the pilots as they served in the skies over Europe, each dispatch from the European front producing shivers of delight. Flyers Help Smash Nazis! Negro Pilots sink Nazi warship! 332nd Bags 25 Enemy planes, Breaks Record in weekend victories! No radio serial could compete with the real life exploits of the men who were the very embodiment of the Double V.
Scientific progress in the twentieth century had been relatively linear; social progress, however, did not move in a straight line, as the descent from the hopeful years after the Civil War into the despairing circumstances of the Jim Crow laws proved. But since World War II, one brick after another had been pried from the walls of segregation. The Supreme Court victories opening graduate education to black students, the executive orders integrating the federal government and the military, the victory, both real and symbolic when the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Negro baseball player Jackie Robinson, were all new landings reached, new corners turned, hopes that pushed Negroes to redouble their efforts to sever the link between separate and equal decisively and permanently.
"Eighty percent of the world's population is colored…In trying to provide leadership in world events, it is necessary for this country to indicate to the world that we practice equality for all within this country. Those countries where colored persons constitute a majority should not be able to point to a double standard existing within the United States."
Being part of a Black First was a powerful symbol, she knew just as well as anyone, and she embraced her son's achievement with delight. But she also knew that the best thing about breaking a barrier was that it would never have to be broken again.