Amelia Boynton Robinson (1911-2015)
General Frank E. Petersen
Susie Baker King Taylor (1848-1912)
Hazel Singer writes:
There is no shortage of people who, during both ordinary and extraordinary times, are heroes to be celebrated because of their quiet courage, determination, and perseverance in the face of racism and obstructionism. Three of these heroes have just recently passed away. They fought and achieved and rose to prominence on the shoulders of those who came before and have become supports for those coming behind them. The three featured today are Amelia Boynton Robinson (August 18, 1911 - August 26, 2015), Frank E. Petersen Jr. (March 2, 1932 - August 25, 2015), and Augusta Chiwy (June 6, 1920 - August 23, 2015).
Amelia Boynton Robinson (ABR) was a leading civil rights activist. She was a teacher in Georgia, a demonstrator/instructor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in rural Alabama, and, later in life, a controversial member of the Lyndon LaRouche Schiller Institute. She received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Medal in 1990 for her work in advocating for voting rights. Amelia Boynton Robinson was a character in the 2014 movie Selma.
General Frank E. Petersen, Jr. was the first black aviator and the first black general in the Marine Corps. General Petersen flew 64 combat missions in the Korean War and 300 missions in the Vietnam War and earned twenty medals for bravery, including the Distinguished Service Medal. He combated racism and obstacles place in his path with valor and never stopped fighting to prove the worthiness of African Americans in the services. His many "firsts" can be learned about in the links above attached to his name. He remained active after retirement as an adviser and educator at the Tuskegee Airmen headquarters and the National Aviation Research and Education Foundation.
Augusta Chiwy was a nurse in Belgium, the daughter of a Congolese mother and Belgian father and was born in what is now Burundi. She saved hundreds of American soldiers wounded at the Battle of the Bulge. At the time, black nurses were not allowed to treat white soldiers, but a U.S. Army doctor overrode regulations in order to enlist her much needed help. She was a character in the book and movie Band of Brothers.
Black nurses, especially those in the armed forces, have had to fight for their right to serve with dignity. Susan (Susie) Baker King Taylor (1848-1912) is considered the first black nurse to serve in the military. (The first black graduate nurse was Mary Eliza Mahoney, 1845-1926). She was born enslaved in Georgia and claimed her freedom in 1862 after Fort Pulaski fell to the Union Army. Her first husband, Edward King, was a black non-commissioned officer in the Union Army. She served with her husband in the First South Carolina Volunteers, 33rd Regiment for the next three years. After the war, she established a school for freed black children. Her husband died shortly thereafter. She moved to Boston, remarried, and became president of the Women's Relief Corps, which gave assistance to soldiers and hospitals.