American history books often leave out important Black achievements from the past that deserve our praise. One of those stories is the hidden tale of Six Triple Eight, a World War Two battalion of Black women who traveled to Europe to help solve a postal crisis. These amazing American women are finally starting to get the recognition they deserve as many are learning about their historic feats for the first time.
In 1945, World War Two was in full throttle and a backlog of mail had drastically affected troop morale. For two years many troops were unable to communicate with their loved ones back home due to the backlog.
To help fix Europe’s postal crisis the US Army enlisted 855 predominantly black women (some of whom were Hispanic women) to revive troop morale and turn the tides of the war.
The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, also called “Six Triple Eight,” were led by Major Charity Adams. At just 26 years old Adams would become the first Black woman to command an overseas battalion in the US Army.
Six Triple Eight were only given six months to fix the mail crisis. The woman worked 24-hour shifts, seven days a week, in three shifts, sorting through 17 million letters and packages, doing it in just three months. Most of the women in the battalion worked as postal clerks, but some were cooks and mechanics or worked in a supporting position to make sure the unit was self-sufficient.
The battalion created its own system of handling backlogged mail, which included creating and maintaining an index card system while also using military serial numbers to distinguish between folks with similar names. Each shift handled an estimated 65,000 pieces of mail.
After successfully fixing the mail crisis in Birmingham, Six Triple Eight was sent to Rouen and Paris to fix similar mail issues in both cities.
When the battalion returned home they were not rewarded any medals, no parades were given and none of them were recognized publicly. Despite all of their success, Six Triple Eight was disbanded in 1946.
What makes these women’s stories so amazing is that in the face of discrimination, they achieved something that wasn’t thought possible, and had a major impact on the war.
Jim Crow was the law of the land in America, but these women persevered regardless of gender discrimination and cultural differences.
The Six Triple Eight battalion is finally getting some much-deserved recognition from some big-name Black celebrities that could make these amazing women household names.
Tyler Perry has announced that he will write and direct a Netflix film called Six Triple Eight, in honor of the Black, all-female battalion. According to Netflix, the star-studded cast will include Kerry Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Susan Sarandon, Ebony Obsidian, Milauna Jackson, Pepi Sonuga, and many more.
Hopefully, their story can inspire other young Black women to never waver in the face of adversity because when you work together anything is achievable.
“Students will feel even more empowered to have high aspirations, knowing that not so long ago there was a whole unit here making a difference, changing the world and changing the narrative and they can be part of the future generation in doing so,” Olivia Brechon-Smith, a math teach at King Edward’s School told BBC.
The film isn’t the only way Six Triple Eight is being honored.
In 2018, a monument in Kanas was dedicated to the battalion. President Joe Biden also signed the Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Act in 2021, awarding the women with America’s highest civilian honor. A Broadway musical is also in the works,
A release date has yet to be released for Netflix’s Six Triple Eight.
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