Preserving Black History By Collecting Stamps

Preserving Black History By Collecting Stamps

 
The Museum of UnCut Funk has acquired the latest stamps from the United States Post Office Black Heritage Series, the Distinguished Soldiers stamp featuring Doris Miller and the Anna Julia Cooper stamp.

Distinguished Soldiers

Doris MillerDoris Miller, known as “Dorie” to shipmates and friends, was born in Waco, Texas, on October 12, 1919, to Henrietta and Conery Miller. He had three brothers, one of which served in the Army during World War II. While attending Moore High School in Waco, he was a fullback on the football team. He worked on his father’s farm before enlisting in the U.S Navy as Mess Attendant, Third Class, at Dallas, Texas, on September 16, 1939, to travel, and earn money for his family. He later was commended by the Secretary of the Navy, was advanced to Mess Attendant, Second Class and First Class, and subsequently was promoted to Cook, Third Class.

Following training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia, Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro (AE-1) where he served as a Mess Attendant, and on January 2, 1940 was transferred to USS West Virginia (BB-48), where he became the ship’s heavyweight boxing champion. In July of that year he had temporary duty aboard USS Nevada (BB-36) at Secondary Battery Gunnery School. He returned to West Virginia and on 3 August, and was serving in that battleship when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Miller had arisen at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded. He headed for his battle station, the antiaircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it, so he went on deck. Because of his physical prowess, he was assigned to carry wounded fellow Sailors to places of greater safety. Then an officer ordered him to the bridge to aid the mortally wounded Captain of the ship. He subsequently manned a 50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship.

Miller described firing the machine gun during the battle, a weapon which he had not been trained to operate: “It wasn’t hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.”

During the attack, Japanese aircraft dropped two armored piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18-inch aircraft torpedoes into her port side. Heavily damaged by the ensuing explosions, and suffering from severe flooding below decks, the crew abandoned ship while West Virginia slowly settled to the harbor bottom. Of the 1,541 men on West Virginia during the attack, 130 were killed and 52 wounded. Subsequently refloated, repaired, and modernized, the battleship served in the Pacific theater through to the end of the war in August 1945.

Doris Miller HonoredMiller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, 1942, and on 27 May 1942 he received the Navy Cross, which Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet personally presented to Miller on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle. Speaking of Miller, Nimitz remarked: This marks the first time in the conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I’m sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.

On December 13, 1941, Miller reported to USS Indianapolis (CA-35), and subsequently returned to the west coast of the United States in November 1942. Assigned to the newly constructed USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) in the spring of 1943, Miller was on board that escort carrier during Operation Galvanic, the seizure of Makin and Tarawa Atolls in the Gilbert Islands. Liscome Bay’s aircraft supported operations ashore between November 20-23, 1943. At 5:10 a.m. on November 24, while cruising near Butaritari Island, a single torpedo from Japanese submarine I-175 struck the escort carrier near the stern. The aircraft bomb magazine detonated a few moments later, sinking the warship within minutes. Listed as missing following the loss of that escort carrier, Miller was officially presumed dead November 25, 1944, a year and a day after the loss of Liscome Bay. Only 272 Sailors survived the sinking of Liscome Bay, while 646 died.

In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller was entitled to the Purple Heart Medal; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.

Commissioned on June 30, 1973, USS Miller (FF-1091), a Knox-class frigate, was named in honor of Doris Miller.

On October 11, 1991, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority dedicated a bronze commemorative plaque of Miller at the Miller Family Park located on the U.S.

 

Source: The Navy Museum

 

Anna Julia CooperAnna Julia Cooper, a woman born into slavery in North Carolina nine years prior to the Civil War, reached milestones as the first woman to publish a book on Black feminism, “A Voice from the South by a Black Woman from the South,” and one of the first Black women to earn a doctorate from world renowned University of Paris, Sorbonne.

Her accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. On Thursday, June 11, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled the Anna Julia Cooper Commemorative Stamp at the Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in Northwest.

Cooper, who also worked as a teacher and principal at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (later known as M Street School and today as Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School), was honored by the Postmaster of Washington, D.C., Yverne Pat Moore, Vice President and Consumer Advocate for the United States Postal Service Delores J. Killette, Professor of English at University of Maryland Carla L. Peterson, Dunbar High School Principal R. Gerald Austin, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Cooper is the 32nd honoree to be inducted into the Black Heritage Stamp Series.

“Anna Julia Cooper once said, ‘The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.’ Her actions to support these memorable words during her life are the reason the Postal Service has chosen Ms. Cooper as the subject of the 32nd stamp in the Black Heritage series,” Killette said.

Cooper was freed from slavery after the Civil War and received a scholarship to attend the St. Augustine Normal School and Collegiate Institute, known today as St. Augustine’s College, in 1868. Cooper graduated and married George A.C. Cooper in 1877. Two years later, her husband died and Cooper moved to Ohio and attended Oberlin College, distinguishing her as one of the first Black women to graduate from the school. Cooper earned a degree in math and returned to St. Augustine to teach math, Greek and Latin.

In 1887, Cooper moved to the District where she was invited to teach science and math at the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth, the most prestigious high school for Black students in the country at that time. Cooper became principal of the school in 1902.

“Although Ms. Cooper was born in Raleigh, N.C., Washington, D.C. claims her as one of its own because she lived her life here and she worked as an educator, feminist, and an activist in our nation’s capital,” Moore said.

Anna J Cooper Unveiling

“I want to thank the postal service for holding this ceremony. For me, this is very special. This is not the quite the same Dunbar I graduated from, but it is on the same ground,” Norton said.

“This was the first public high school in America for Black children, but it became known nationally and internationally for its faculty. Dunbar would not have become Dunbar without the standards and the aspirations of teachers like Anna Julia Cooper. She set such high standards that in turn they encouraged Black children throughout the District of Columbia to believe that they could go to college and to believe that Dunbar High School would prepare them to go to the best colleges in the United States,” Norton said.

Source: The Washington Informer

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