HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Minnie M. Cox - first Afr...

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:06 PM

Minnie M. Cox - first African/American Postmistress

Minnie M. Cox

Minnie Cox c. 1900


Minnie M. (Geddings) Cox (18691933) was an American teacher who was the first African-American woman to serve as a postmaster in the United States.[1] She became the center of a national controversy in the early 1900s when local white citizens attempted to force her out of her job. She also cofounded one of the earliest black-owned banks in the state, as well as an insurance company.

Minnie M. Geddings was born in 1869 to Mary Geddings and William Geddings in Lexington, Mississippi.[2] At the age of 19, she graduated from Fisk University with a teaching degree.[3][4] She taught school for a time and in 1889 married Wayne W. Cox, then a school principal in Indianola, Mississippi.[1][3] They were active in the Republican Party.[3][4]

In 1891, during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison, she was appointed postmaster of Indianola.[2][3] She was the first African-American woman to hold such a position.[1] Cox lost her job in 1892 under President Grover Cleveland but was reappointed in 1897 by President William McKinley and continued to serve under President Theodore Roosevelt.[3][4]

Cox was considered an excellent postmaster.[5] During the Roosevelt administration, however, local white citizens began to agitate to expel African-Americans from good jobs such as the one Cox held.[3][4] The white supremacist politician James K. Vardaman led a targeted campaign in his newspaper, The Greenwood Commonwealth, to force her resignation.[3][4] Eventually the citizens of Indianola voted for Cox to resign a year before her commission was due to expire.[3] Cox initially refused to step down, although she let it be known that she would not try for reappointment after her current commission expired.[5]

As threats against Cox escalated and both the mayor and sheriff refused to protect her,[1] she changed her mind and offered her resignation effective Jan. 1, 1903.[3][2] President Roosevelt refused to accept her resignation and instead closed the Indianola post office, indicating that it would not reopen until Cox could safely resume her duties.[3] The president also ordered the U.S. Attorney General to prosecute those Indianola citizens who had threatened violence against Cox.[3] A few days later, Cox left town over concerns for her own safety.[5]

The situation became a national news story,[6] sparking a debate about "race, states' rights, and federal power".[7]

When Cox's appointment expired in 1904, the Indianola post office reopened with a different postmaster.[4] Cox and her husband returned to Indianola, where they opened the Delta Penny Savings Bank, one of the earliest black-owned banks in the state.[7] They also founded one of the first black-owned insurance companies in the United States to offer whole life insurance, the Mississippi Life Insurance Company.[7] They were strong supporters of black businesses in the state.[4]

After her husband died in 1925, Cox remarried. She and her second husband, George Key Hamilton, moved to Tennessee and later to Rockford, Illinois. She died in 1933.[4]
The Minnie Cox Post Office Building in Indianola.

More information: http://mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/articles/421/minnie-geddings-cox-and-the-indianola-affair

3 replies, 518 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 3 replies Author Time Post
Reply Minnie M. Cox - first African/American Postmistress (Original post)
marble falls May 2019 OP
Blue_true May 2019 #1
marble falls May 2019 #2
Blue_true May 2019 #3

Response to marble falls (Original post)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:16 PM

1. Excellent post. The discrmination of those times still haunt us today.

Even if we got total racial equality, economic inequality between Blacks and Whites will persist because Whites have built of a larger generational wealth and can better afford to do things like finance new businesses.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to Blue_true (Reply #1)

Mon May 20, 2019, 11:25 PM

2. What Indianola missed out on by not recognizing the value this woman and her husband.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Response to marble falls (Reply #2)

Tue May 21, 2019, 05:59 PM

3. Exactly. They deserved to be leading town citizens.

They had the values and worked hard, the thing the right claim make every problem work out for the best.

There are millions of stories like her and her husband. Blacks that were educated and hardworking being denied any chance at a job that they were qualified for.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread