Minnie Cox, a first for Mississippi
Minnie Cox plaque
*The birth of Minnie Cox in 1869 is celebrated on this date. She was an African American teacher, and postal administrator.
Minnie M. Geddings Cox was one of two daughters born to William and Mary Geddings of Lexington, Mississippi. She graduated from Fisk University and first taught school at the common schools in Lexington. Soon after married and assisted her husband, Wayne, when he was principal of the Indianola Colored Public School. In 1891, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Cox postmistress of Indianola, and was reappointed by President William McKinley; becoming first Black postmistress of the United States.
On January 25, 1900, McKinley raised her rank from fourth class to third class and appointed Mrs. Cox for a full four-year term. However, in the fall of 1902 under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt a controversy brought national attention to Mrs. Cox. Jim Crow Laws overran Reconstruction in America and whites wanted Blacks eliminated from leadership positions. Some of the local whites in Indianola met and drew up a petition requesting Cox’s resignation. Increased tension and threats of physical harm caused Cox to submit her resignation to take effect January 1, 1903.
Roosevelt felt Mrs. Cox had been wronged, and that the authority of the federal government was being compromised and refused to accept her resignation. Instead, he closed Indianola’s post office on January 2, 1903, rerouted the mail to Greenville, MS, and Cox continued to receive her salary. Also for four hours in January 1903, the Indianola postal event was debated on the floor of the United States Senate, and appeared on the front pages of newspapers across the country. A year later, at the expiration of Mrs. Cox’s term, in February 1904 the post office was reopened, but demoted in rank from third class to fourth class. Minnie Cox died in 1933.
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