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January 4, 2023

2UrbanGirls: Compton post office renamed for first Black Marine to receive Medal of Honor

2 Urban Girls: 

Emile St. John 

PUBLISHED: January 4, 2023

COMPTON, Calif. – Local and federal officials gathered for a ceremony renaming a Compton
post office for a fallen Black marine on Dec. 23.

The post office located adjacent to Compton City Hall was renamed for Pfc. James Anderson Jr.
who was the first Black Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service during the
Vietnam War.

The renaming was part of a joint effort between Congresswoman Nanette Barragan and
Compton Mayor Emma Sharif.

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan introduced legislation in late 2020 to rename the post office for
Anderson who she called “a son of Compton, a patriot and a hero in the purest sense of the

Compton Mayor Emma Sharif, Councilwoman Lillie Darden, the family of Pfc. James Anderson,
Jr. and members of the U.S. Marines from the V.F. W. Post 5394 gather at the U.S. Post Office
on Willowbrook to celebrate the renaming of the office on Dec. 23.

“The bravery of this 20-year-old was beyond any rational expectation for someone so young, and
his family, friends, and fellow soldiers still feel the impacts of that sacrifice to this day. It was
my honor to introduce legislation to rename a post office in our community in honor of his
courage and sacrifice,” said Barragan.

Anderson was born on Jan. 22, 1947, in Los Angeles. He attended Carver Elementary School in
Willowbrook and graduated from Centennial High School in Compton. He continued his
education at Los Angeles Harbor College. After a year and a half, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine
Corps in February 1966, arriving in Vietnam that December.

Compton Mayor Emma Sharif and Councilwoman Lillie Darden, whose district the post office is
located, were both on hand for the ceremony.

Sharif explained the efforts to rename the post office began before she was elected mayor in June

“This process began when I was a member of the city council and my friend who is a Vietnam
vet shared with me all of the people who lost their lives during the war, many of which are
buried at Lincoln Park cemetery so I got in contact with the Congresswoman and here we are
today,” said Sharif.

Councilwoman Darden also applauded the efforts of Barragan to rename the post office in
Anderson’s honor.

“I am excited and is indeed an honor to be here to dedicate our historical post office in the name
of Pfc. James Anderson Jr.,” said Darden.

“I am so appreciative of Congresswoman Barragan’s making this happen and getting it passed.”

Also, on hand were members of the V.F.W. Post 5394 who are also U.S. Marines who spoke on
the significance of honoring Anderson and getting the word out that he was awarded a
Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism.

“I appreciate the fact that the Congresswoman put a campaign together to name a facility after
this young man,” said Charles Cook, Jr., a retired Sergeant Major. “To have this honor next to
Compton’s heart, City Hall, is even more prevalent to me.”

“A 20-year-old Black man felt the need to protect his platoon of 35-40 Marines and in that he
gave his life,” said Cook. “That’s a Black man who had went through all kinds of stuff before he
got there to do something bigger than him. That’s a Black veteran.”

Cook explained the bigger picture is to show the young Black men and women in Compton that
need to see Black people not only survived 400 years of slavery but we are also a part of the
bigger picture of the United States.

“I wouldn’t have been able to be a United States Marine, let alone be a Sergeant Major, if it
hadn’t been for people like Pfc. Anderson,” said Cook