Twenty-First Century: The Postal Service Today

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A letter carrier delivering mail to a family. Courtesy of the United States Postal Service, Gerald Merna, photographer

The experience of African Americans in the postal service has changed dramatically throughout history. From the colonial period, when slaves carried the mail, to today, when African Americans represent a considerable number of postal service employees, African Americans have played an ever-growing significant role in the delivery of mail. The effects of federal segregation and integration are evident in the employment history of African Americans in the postal service. Prior to Reconstruction and during the federal segregation implemented by Woodrow Wilson’s Administration, it was close to impossible for African Americans to gain employment in the postal service. Between and after these periods of discrimination, however, African Americans took important leadership roles in the postal service. Today, African Americans continue to play a critical role in the postal service. The hardworking employees of the postal service process and deliver over 213 billion pieces of mail annually.(1) Each day letter carriers deliver approximately 2,900 pieces of mail to more than 500 different addresses.(2) As American Postal Workers Union President, William Burrus aptly stated, the postal service has “come a long way, and … will not return to the past.”

1) Ibid.

2) Ibid.