The predominance of poetry in this section is due in part to the massive wartime output and inﬂuence of the poet Langston Hughes, who published regularly in periodicals and who was a member of the Writers' War Board, an organization of writers who used their talents to mobilize the civilian population as best they could. (It is noteworthy that Hughes was investigated by the FBI for alleged subversive activities during the war, as were several African American leaders and the black press in particular, which may have fueled his and their determination to ﬁght segregation.) The African American male soldier is at the center of this poetry, providing an effective tool for deconstructing the racist underpinnings of a society purportedly ﬁghting to preserve democratic principles. He was at the front lines of two battles: the ﬁght against segregation in the armed forces, and the ﬁght against fascist enemies overseas. Airmen at the Tuskegee Army base, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, were a source of particular pride to the black community, for these were the ﬁrst black pilots to be trained and the ﬁrst to be sent into combat. Testifying to their symbolic signiﬁcance is the fact that Gordon Parks, who was the ﬁrst African American photographer hired by the OWI, tried to accompany the squadron when it ﬁrst was sent to Europe, but he was prevented from doing so by southern congressmen who did not want the mission publicized, as it would foster ideas of racial equality. Undaunted by the mainstream media white-out, however, black writers and editors put the Tuskegee airmen at the forefront of “Double V” rhetoric, as is evident in the poetry here.
The idea that African American soldiers would demonstrate equality of the races through helping win the war helps explain the attraction of women poets to this subject. African American poets Elsie Mills Holton, Roberta I. Thomas, Ruth Albert Cook, Roberta Thomas, Ruby Berkley Goodwin, Lucia Mae Pitts, Gwendolyn Brooks, Cora Ball Moten, and Margaret Walker all focus on the male subject in this section, and they do so in part to intensify the contradiction between racism at home and the ﬁght for democracy abroad. Unable to go into combat themselves, black women could disrupt a prominent feature of American racism in World War II by putting African Americans into the white-dominated portrait