You may recall that last fall we learned that Arlington educator and historic figure Martha Ann Miller had published her autobiography at the age of 101, as she had promised when she turned 100. Called “The First Century And Not Ready for the Rocking Chair Yet,” it chronicled her colorful life and her time at Stratford Junior High School, now H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, including being one of the first teachers to teach black children at Virginia’s first integrated school in 1959.
Well you can’t get that book any more. Miller sold them all. But in publishing, there’s a little thing called a “second printing.” And Miller has ordered up a few hundred more copies of “The First Century,” and the second edition is “nearly perfect,” she told me Wednesday. “The mistakes we found in the first edition are all corrected.”
Miller, who retired in 1974 and then became a leader in the American Association of University Women, is also stepping boldly into the computer age. Where before you had to e-mail her personally to get a copy of her book, now you can go to Amazon.com (which I hear is a brilliantly run company) and order “The First Century.” Miller said that “it may seem a little expensive to buy it on Amazon, but I’ve read the book and it’s worth every penny.” Take it from the author. The hardcover is $40 and the paperback is $27.50.
Miller also is getting a new computer, and showed off her tech smarts by noting that she had bought one with Windows 7, instead of with the less highly rated Windows 8.
Miller started teaching math at Stratford in 1952, and two years later the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling. But Virginia wasn’t exactly leaping to abide by that precedent, and it wasn’t until 1959 that a circuit court ordered black students admitted to an Arlington school. Stratford was the first.
“The principals asked the teachers if we would be willing to teach black students,” Miller wrote. “Some teachers refused. I personally felt it was an insult to be asked this kind of question, and I, of course, volunteered, considering it an honor to have these students in my classroom.”
With police acting as a protective force and the national media watching, four students entered Stratford on Feb. 2, 1959, and took math with Miller. “I welcomed them into my class,” Miller wrote, “showed them where they could sit, and we went into our lesson. It was just a regular day.”
Having accomplished her autobiography, and now working on the marketing, she’s still getting around town. “I’m still going out and speaking to groups,” she said, and she plans a visit soon to the newly renovated Wakefield High School in Arlington. She is also undertaking a membership report at her church, Clarendon United Methodist, where she’s been a member for 69 years. And she’s still not using her rocking chair.
Here are our previous looks at Miller on her 100th birthday, and then again last year after the book was published. Below is a video interview that Miller gave in 2011 to the AAUW, and gives you a good idea of how sharp, and inspirational, she is to this day.