UNA-NY Screening the Issues

The Six Triple Eight



Please watch our film presentation online
and join us for a Zoom discussion and Q+A with
special guests including


Panelists

JAMES THERES
Executive Producer, Lincoln Penny Films

MAJ. GENERAL MARCIA M. ANDERSON
U.S. Army (Retired), Cast Member

COL. EDNA W. CUMMINGS
U.S. Army (Retired), Producer, Six Triple Eight Advocate


Moderated by

DESIREE WATSON
Founder, Wellness Interactive

 

Thursday | October 1, 2020

6:00 p.m. | Zoom Discussion with Q+A

 

Register for the Zoom Discussion HERE

NOTE: The Zoom discussion is free to attend online, but requires advance registration, upon which all participants will receive an email confirmation, along with a link for attending the Zoom discussion, as well as a separate link and password for viewing the film prior to the discussion and near the time of the event.


This FilmTalkUNA event in our Screening the Issues program is a part of a current series of online presentations hosted by UNA-NY in a virtual format on the ZOOM platform. These online events are free, but require advance registration, upon which all participants will receive an email confirmation, along with a link for attending the Zoom discussion at the time of the event, and when applicable, a separate link and password for viewing the film prior to the discussion.

Since UNA-NY sends out one email for each FilmTalkUNA event in advance, we encourage all who are interested in participating, but who are not already UNA-NY members, to sign up on our general mailing list, in order to receive email notifications about these and other events, as well as occasional news updates.

Please sign up for our general email list HERE.



The SixTripleEight is a compelling documentary that tells the fascinating story of the only all-black Women's Army Corps (WACs) battalion to serve overseas during WWII.

Due to a chaotic mail system in Europe during WWII, servicemen had low morale due to lack of contact with loved ones. In February 1945, the U.S. Army sent 855 black women from the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) to England and France to clear the multi-year backlog of mail and packages. The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was known as the Six Triple Eight — the only all-black female battalion to serve in Europe during WWII.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights leader Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune successfully advocated for the admittance of African-American women as enlisted personnel and officers in the WAC, although as in the rest of the Army, segregation prevailed. Confronted with racism and sexism from their own leadership and troops, they served with honor and distinction completing their mission in three months — well under the Army’s six-month expectation. By war’s end, the Six Triple Eight had cleared over 17 million pieces of backlogged mail ensuring the troops stayed in touch with their loved ones back home.

In March 1946, unheralded and unrecognized, the last of the women returned to a Jim Crow segregated United States. After more than 70 years, the Six Triple Eight are finally receiving their long overdue recognition — including a monument, a documentary, and their only performance award: the Army's Meritorious Unit Commendation in 2019.

These unsung heroes pioneered women’s rights, civil rights and opportunities for our armed forces. Additionally, supporters are behind bills calling for the battalion to receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their extraordinary service, joining the likes of the Tuskegee Airmen and Montford Point Marines.

Please watch this inspiring film using the special link and password (obtained after you register) — and then join us for an online Zoom discussion about the film, with our special guests, including filmmaker James Theres, Retired Maj. General Marcia Anderson, USAR, and Retired Col. Edna W. Cummings, the producer of the film and Six Triple Eight advocate. The panel will be moderated by Desiree Watson, founder of Wellness Interactive and an Advisory Board member of UNA-NY.



PANEL SPEAKERS

JAMES THERES
Executive Producer, Lincoln Penny Films

James William Theres is an award-winning Executive Writer for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C., and an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker. His film, The Hello Girls won Best Documentary Feature at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in 2018 and the People’s Choice Award at the Beloit International Film Festival in 2019. In May 2019, James screened his third film, The SixTripleEight, throughout England, courtesy of the United States Embassy in London, at several universities and venues to include the Birmingham, England City Hall, universities of Manchester, Glasgow, and Cardiff, and the National War Museum in London. The SixTripleEight was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 9th Annual Charlotte Black Film Festival.

He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and an MA in History from Jackson State University.

His first film, The 30th of May, was based on his graduate research project of the same name. The paper received the prestigious Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander Award at the 10th Annual Creative Arts Festival at Jackson State University. The documentary received 10 awards and appeared on Mississippi Public Television in May 2017.

His second documentary, The Hello Girls, tells the relatively unknown story of 223 American women who were recruited, trained, and sent overseas by the US Army Signal Corps to serve as telephone operators. They wore Army uniforms and swore Army oaths. They served at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. For 60 years, they fought the U.S. government and finally received their recognition as soldiers and Veterans in 1977. The Hello Girls has screened at the National Archives in Washington D.C., the World War I Museum in Kansas City, and General Pershing’s former headquarters in Chaumont, France on November 11, 2018, 100 years after the end of the war.

In March 2019, James received a “Special Recognition Award” from the US Army Women’s Foundation for The Hello Girls documentary. He completed his third documentary, The SixTripleEight, in May 2019. In June 2019, he received the prestigious 2019 Media and Entertainment Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) at their National Defense Night Ceremony of their 128th DAR Continental Congress on Saturday, June 29 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington D.C.


MAJ. GENERAL MARCIA M. ANDERSON
U.S. Army (Retired), Cast Member

In 2011, Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, U.S. Army Reserve, became the first African-American woman to achieve the rank of major general. At the time, she served as the senior advisor to the chief, Army Reserve on policies and programs for the U.S. Army Reserve, including force structure, congressional budget and appropriations process, manpower and personnel, and Army and Department of Defense matters.

After 37 years of service, Anderson retired from the military in 2016, as Deputy Chief, U.S. Army Reserve. Her previous assignment was Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Human Resources Command. Upon her retirement from the Army, Anderson resumed her job as Clerk of the Court for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. She is married to Amos Anderson; the couple live near Madison, Wiscosnin.

Anderson attended an all-girls Catholic high school in St. Louis, Mo., the same one her mother attended in the early 1950s as one of the first four black students. Anderson received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Creighton University and a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Anderson earned her Juris Doctorate degree from Rutgers University. Her military education includes the Adjutant General Basic and Advance courses, Basic and Intermediate Government Auditing, Command and General Staff College Course, Advanced Joint Professional Military Education, Capstone, and the United States Army War College, where she was awarded a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies. Her military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Parachutist Badge, and Physical Fitness Badge.

Anderson was painfully shy in her youth, she said during an interview with C-SPAN in November, 2011. As a child in East St. Louis, Ill., across the river from St. Louis, Mo., she preferred to read books than to gather in large social circles. Public speaking, answering questions in class or presenting a book report made her palms sweat and her stomach churn, even though she knew the correct answers.

Her military experience forced her to outgrow her shyness, starting in leadership roles in ROTC at Creighton University. Her military experience also revealed something about her family. It wasn’t until Anderson was promoted to colonel that she learned from her father that he, too, had served in the Army, during the Korean War era. He wanted to work in aviation, but instead was a driver because of limited opportunities.


COL. EDNA W. CUMMINGS
U.S. Army (Retired), Producer, Six Triple Eight Advocate

Retired Col. Edna W. Cummings, the first African American female ROTC graduate from Appalachian State University, was inducted into the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame on March 11, 2020.

Cummings, who was honored for her “exceptional contributions to women in the Army,” has been instrumental in obtaining long overdue recognition of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion — the world’s first all-black female battalion that was sent from the U.S. to serve in parts of Europe during World War II.

A native of Fayetteville, Cummings had a distinguished 25-year military career, during which she was a leader and role model in positions first open to women, including the following:

  • ROTC leadership instructor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
  • Reserve forces advisor to the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
  • Chief of emergency operations for the Office of the Chief of Army Reserve.
  • Watch officer in the Pentagon’s Army Operations Center.
  • Specialist in emergency preparedness and human capital management at the Pentagon and the First U.S. Army facility in Fort Gillem, Georgia.

She now operates Cummings and Cummings LLC, a consulting firm in the Washington, D.C., area that specializes in management and proposal services for federal and commercial clients.

Through her 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 honoring the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, dedicated in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in November 2018.

In early 2019, Cummings served as the producer of the documentary film “The Six Triple Eight,” which explores the battalion’s work in clearing the backlog of mail in Europe — over 17 million pieces — to help soldiers stay in touch with their loved ones back home. Cummings said she is now working with Congress to award the unit a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.

Cummings, who was part of a military family, said she chose Appalachian for its ROTC program. “While living on military bases, I admired the professionalism and confidence that the members of the Women’s Army Corps seemed to have,” she said. “I wanted to become an Army officer and joined ROTC as a freshman. I feel the military gave me the opportunity to impact a few lives and contribute to the nation and my community.”

She said the sense of obligation and concern for community drives her continued participation at Appalachian, where she earned a B.S. in social sciences–education with an undergraduate teaching certificate.

Cummings served on the Appalachian State University Foundation Inc. Board of Directors from 2014–18. She also helped establish the Appalachian Warrior Fund to provide scholarships for honorably discharged and disabled veterans and their children and became active in Appalachian’s African American Alumni Network to provide scholarships to underrepresented students.


PANEL MODERATOR

DESIREE WATSON
Founder, Wellness Interactive

Desiree Watson, one of the country's premiere wellness and sustainability Leading Women Entrepreneurs, and a recognized humanitarian of note, is considered both a “branding guru” and an expert on offering the human side of business strategy. She has advised some of the biggest names and institutions in the worlds of business and education.

Watson began her career in 1978, decades before wellness became an industry. At that time, its concepts appealed only to a niche audience—but Desiree could see the potential from two levels: helping people lead better lives, and the business of wellness and sustainability.

She holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Communications. She has advised C-level Executives on their approach to Community Social Responsibility (CSR) — an issue she believes every corporation and organization should address.

She founded her own company Wellness Interactive in 2000. Under Watson’s leadership, Wellness Interactive became an industry leader recognized for strategic planning delivering premium health and wellness services to major corporations.

In addition, Watson’s days are filled with advancing the cause of women’s rights and equipping women as they advance their careers, businesses, and family lives.

When asked how she does it all, Watson says, “It’s a sense of common. It’s about living life to love peacefully.”

The inspirational success story of Desiree Watson began as the tale of a young woman, one of sixteen children who worked with her mother supporting and building local community service organizations. Her early life imbued her with a passion for empowering communities — and especially supporting women.

Now Watson’s vision is sought after on the international stage, where she exerts influence on policymakers and corporations operating globally. A member of the Advisory Board of the UN Association of New York, she has also served on the UNA National Council. She is an Advisory Board member of Leading Women Entrepreneurs, and Charter Member. She is a Ambassador of the prestigious Global Wellness Institute (GWI), and has also served on the Advisory Board. She has held key roles as the Chairperson of the 60th Anniversary for the UN and as the Executive VP of the UNA-NY. She has served on the boards of civic and international organizations and is the Co-founder of the Great Women Sculpture Initiative.

She works with various non-profits as a strategic partner and problem solver. Her expertise is sought after by top executives because of its human quality. She consults in a broad range of fields to bring meaning and substance to the corporate culture. Her varied skills include strategy, strategic marketing, design, program implementation, and management of corporate wellness & sustainability programs. AARP says that she helped change their image.

Watson has worked with numerous institutions including AARP, the PGA of America, Kaiser Permanente, Viacom/BET Networks, NBA Wives Foundation, Releve Entertainment, educational institutions, foundations & civic groups.

Along the way, Desiree has garnered numerous prestigious awards, such as the UN Women “Champion of Change” and the Commerce Industry Association of New Jersey’s “Champion of Good Works" and "Companies Who Care". She’s grateful for the awards but more grateful for the opportunities to help so many worthy people and causes. She most enjoys elevating the cultural conversation. Desiree lives her life to lead by example.

Her “can-do” attitude is infectious.