DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The Miami Valley has a rich military history, featuring several trailblazers. That includes a Dayton woman who made her mark during World War II.
Charity Adams Earley was born in Kintrell, North Carolina, but the time she spent in Dayton has had a lasting impact on the community.
Charity Adams Earley was born December 5th, 1918. She graduated the valedictorian of her high school class and later went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in 1938.
She came from a strong family that instilled the principles of going after dreams and putting forth an achiever spirit, something she later instilled in her 2 children Stanley and Judith. And something they believe fueled her to later become the first African American woman to be an officer in the women’s auxiliary corps, 6888.
“The officers, these young women were given an extraordinary task in difficult times and they succeeded because, they rolled up their sleeves and figured out the best way to do it and did it.. and I think a lot of times, we think we can’t do things, and I think understanding that we can is very important,” her son Stanley Earley told us.
Adams-Earley was only 28 when she was promoted to Lt. Colonel, the highest rank a woman could hold at that time.
Her unit, 6888, was based out of Birmingham, UK and was responsible for organizing and sorting undeliverable mail to soldiers.
Their unit cleared 6 months of backlogged mail in just 3 months, working around the clock to complete the task.
Upon arriving back to the U.S. her unit, like many African American units, were not given a parade but since then, her legacy is being celebrated, with her children watching the acknowledgements roll in.
“It is just amazing, it kind of started to pick up steam recently with the different types of recognitions, the base naming and the novel based on 6888 and the movie, and the broadway show.. it’s a tad overwhelming.” Judith Earley, Charity Adams-Earley’s daughter said.
Adams-Early passed in 2002 and was a part of a long list of organizations including NAACP, the Women’s Self-Governing Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, and the American Red Cross, just to name a few.
A Dayton Public School is also named in her honor. It is an all-girls elementary school, and both her children Judith and Stanley Earley are hopeful that the children at that school as well as others will hear their mother’s story and feel capable.
“One thing that I will say has been enjoyable for me has been the number of young women.. i mean really like girls– like 7th grade, 8th grade, that have contacted me or some of the other people who’ve been involved in 6888.. because they were just so excited about it,” her son Stanley told us.
“Well I hope that they’ll see that black women can accomplish.” Judith Early, Charity Adams- Earley’s daughter also added.
Military base Fort-Lee, in Virginia was previously named after a confederate soldier, but it is in the process of being renamed to fort Gregg-Adams in honor of Lt. Gen. Arthur J. Gregg and none other than Lt. Col. Charity Adams.