Horace Pippin, Mr. Prejudice

Discrimination undermined the sense of victory for African American vets

Horace Pippin, Mr. Prejudice, 1943, oil on canvas, 46 x 35.9 cm (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

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Pippin, Mr. Prejudice

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Key points

  • Racial discrimination continued to undermine the legal rights granted African Americans after the Civil War well into the 20th century. This injustice is especially apparent in light of the service, sacrifice, and patriotism of African Americans in the military during both World Wars.
  • “V for Victory” was a popular slogan in the allied fight to end World War II that had been coined by Winston Churchill (Prime Minister of Britain). African American groups expanded its meaning to create the “Double V” campaign, promoting the dual hope that victory in war could be accompanied by an end to racial conflict and discrimination on the home front.
  • Horace Pippin had served in the segregated 369th Infantry Regiment during World War I. This unit was known as the Harlem Hellfighters for their fierce bravery in battle. As a result of deep-seated racism in the U.S. Army, the 369th fought under French command. By the war’s end, they had spent more time on the frontline than any other U.S. troops.  When they returned home after the war, they continued to face discrimination in daily life.

Go deeper

This painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Learning resource from the Philadelphia Museum of Art on this painting

Read about the 369th Infantry Regiment, called the Harlem Hellfighters, in World War I

Learn more about African Americans during World War I

Learn about the history of lynchings in the U.S. and the work of Ida B. Wells to advocate for racial justice

Read about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 Executive Order 8802: Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry

Learn about racial discrimination in the U.S. military and the Double V campaign

Find out about the experiences of African Americans in the military during World War II

Learn about the “Double V” campaign to fight for freedoms abroad and on the home front

See an excerpt from Horace Pippin’s World War I memoir

More to think about

Consider the discrimination faced by African Americans in the military during World War I and II. What other groups have faced similar discrimination in the military and other public service? Why do you think individuals who have experienced discrimination might still choose to serve?

Smarthistory images for teaching and learning:

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