BOONE – Retired Col. Edna W. Cummings – the first African-American woman to graduate from Appalachian State University ROTC, graduating in 1978 – was inducted into the Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame. US Army on March 11.
Cummings, who was honored for her “outstanding contributions to women in the military,” was instrumental in securing the long-awaited recognition of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion – the world’s first all-black female battalion who was sent from the United States to serve in parts of Europe during World War II.
Originally from Fayetteville, Cummings had a distinguished 25-year military career, during which she was a leader and role model in positions initially open to women, including:
- ROTC Leadership Instructor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC
- Reserve Force Advisor to US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
- Chief of Emergency Operations for the Office of the Chief of the Army Reserve.
- Officer on duty at the Pentagon Army Operations Center.
- Specialist in emergency preparedness and human capital management at the Pentagon and the US Army’s first facility in Fort Gillem, Georgia.
She now runs Cummings and Cummings LLC, a Washington, DC-area consulting firm specializing in management and proposal services for federal and commercial clients.
Through his involvement with the Buffalo Soldier Educational and Historical Committee – a nonprofit organization that preserves and promotes the history of African American military units – Cummings helped raise funds for a monument in honor of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, dedicated to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in November 2018.
In early 2019, Cummings was the producer of the documentary film “The Six Triple Eight,” which explores the battalion’s work to clear the backlog of mail in Europe – over 17 million pieces – to help soldiers stay in touch with their relatives. home. Cummings said she is now working with Congress to award the unit a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Cummings, who was part of a military family, said she chose Appalachian for her ROTC program.
“While living on military bases, I admired the professionalism and confidence that members of the Army Women’s Corps seemed to have,” she said. “I wanted to become an army officer and I joined the ROTC as a recruit. I think the military has given me the opportunity to make an impact on a few lives and to contribute to the nation and my community.
She said a sense of obligation and concern for community motivates her continued participation in Appalachian, where she obtained a BS in Social Sciences – Education with an undergraduate teaching certificate.
Cummings served on the board of directors of the Appalachian State University Foundation Inc. from 2014 to 2018. She also helped establish the Appalachian Warrior Fund to provide scholarships to honorably released and disabled veterans and their children and became active in the Appalachian African-American Alumni Network to provide scholarships to under-represented students.