Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Louisville Native Received Rosie the Riveter Certificate A Women History Month Story

On April 8, 2014 Marcella Eichelberger Turnipseed Hubbard
received the Rosie the Riveter Certificate which represents the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II. Marcella is the daughter of the late William James and Sarah Coleman Eichelberger. Marcella was born, March 28, 1921 and was raised in Louisville, MS. She graduated from the Winston County Training School while living in the Mt. Sinai Community.

With so many men gone to war, the United States had to recruit for the industry jobs that were left vacant. It was still very racially segregated during this era and therefore, the United Stated started with recruiting middle class white women, followed by minority men. Later, minority women were the last to be recruited. For the first time in this nation’s history, minorities and white women were working together in industry. (This writer remembers her brother, Lorenzo Eichelberger sharing that he was a trained welder who was sent to Atlanta, GA to work in 1941. He said that the Blacks worked 2nd shift and white worked 1st shift. Because Blacks were continuing to be lynched in GA at this time, he and his friends became afraid of being lynched while out at night and therefore, begged their job placement person to send them to California instead to work in the shipyards. He and a brother-in-law Melvin Smith were sent to Sausalito, CA. He later served in the war). Many people from across the United States migrated to Richmond, Sausalito, CA and to other industrial cities to work in industry building ships, bombs, munitions and other war equipment for the United States and its allies.

Over 6 million women were recruited and became known at Rosie the Riveter. “We Can Do It” became their motto. Seemingly, the motto was to assure the country that they could be trusted to do the work of the men who were gone to war and also to encourage themselves. They, also, became known as the Home Front workers. The origin of Rosie the Riveter came from a real woman, Rose Will Monroe, who worked as a riveter at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan. At that location, they were responsible for building B-24 bombers for the U. S Army Air Forces.

In 2000, the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park was established in Richmond, CA. to tell the story of the role of women in World War II. Richmond became the most logical location for the park. The Kaiser Shipyards are located in Richmond and that is where 747 ships were built during the war which makes them the most productive shipyards in history. Richmond has a large number of historical buildings from the war period. Also, Richmond had 55 war industries. The SS Red Oak Victory Ship which was built in 1944 and used in the war as a cargo ship was preserved to serve as a museum ship in Richmond, CA. It is a part of the Rosie the Riveter/WW II Home Front National Historical Park.

In 1943, Marcella decided to follow her brother Lorenzo to California to seek employment which resulted in her being trained and employed as a welder at the shipyard in Sausalito, CA. She continued employment as a welder for 3 years. She returned home to Louisville in 1946 to marry Rev. B.C. Turnipseed who was also a Civil Rights Workers – registering Blacks to vote throughout Mississippi. Marcella pursued her degree in education and graduated from Mississippi Valley State University to become a school teacher. She taught school in Pickens, Vaiden and Laurel, MS. She and her husband raised one child, Angeline Turnipseed West. After the death of her husband in 1963, Marcella and their daughter moved to California to live until present. Upon her return to California, she worked for Internal Revenue Service and later for the Social Security Administration in Richmond, CA from which she retired. A few years after her return to California, she married the late M. L. Hubbard. She has been an active member of New Hope Baptist Church, Oakland, CA since 1964. She is a seamstress, excellent cook and gardeners. She is the eldest living member of her family which consisted of 22 children by her father William James Eichelberger who was a World War I veteran. He was married to her mother Sarah Coleman and had 10 children by before her death. After which, he married Betsy Ann Hughes and had 12 children (two children died as infants).

Marcella celebrated her 97th birthday on Saturday, March 24, 2018, with her family in Oakland, CA. She is the grandmother of three: LaTasha Mitchum, Samauri Ware, Rasheeda West Johnson; great grandmother of six; Sheliah Mitchum, Jalil Christopher, Jalen Jordan, Keyo Johnson, Jr., Kyron Johnson, Kaleb Johnson and great great grandmother of one: Ryann Mitchum.

She has siblings who still live in Louisville: Elmetra Patterson, Janice Hopkins, Barbara Coleman, Gwendolyn, Paul and Clifford Eichelberger. Other siblings: Aurelia Eichelberger of San Francisco, CA, Ollie Walker of Oakland, CA, Ina Davis of Alameda, CA, Ruth Brown and Mattie Davis of Richmond, CA, Clifton Eichelberger of Baton Rouge, LA. Her Step-mother, Betsy Ann ‘Pattie’ Eichelberger recently passed in Louisville, MS.

Submitted by: Elmetra Patterson

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Marcella with another Rosie the Riveter at the ceremony