Indianola is a U.S. city in Sunflower County, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta. The population was 10,683 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Sunflower County.
In 1891, Minnie M. Cox was appointed postmaster of Indianola, becoming the first black female postmaster in the United States. Her rank was raised from fourth class to third class in 1900, and she was appointed to a full four-year term. Cox's position was one of the most respected and lucrative public posts in Indianola, as it served approximately 3,000 patrons and paid $1,100 annually, then a large sum. White resentment to Cox's prestigious position began to grow, and in 1902 some white residents in Indianola drew up a petition requesting Cox's resignation. James K. Vardaman, editor of The Greenwood Commonwealth and a white supremacist, began delivering speeches reproaching the people of Indianola for "tolerating a negro [sic] wench as a postmaster."
Racial tensions grew, and threats of physical harm led Cox to submit her resignation to take effect on January 1, 1903. The incident attracted national attention, and President Theodore Roosevelt refused to accept her resignation, feeling Cox had been wronged, and the authority of the federal government was being compromised. "Roosevelt stood resolute. Unless Cox's detractors could prove a reason for her dismissal other than the color of her skin, she would remain the Indianola postmistress."
Roosevelt closed Indianola's post office on January 2, 1903, and rerouted mail to Greenville; Cox continued to receive her salary.