Photo: Black letter carriers work at the Mobile, AL post office in 1956
The Postal Service will observe Black History Month, which begins Thursday, Feb. 1.
The annual commemoration traces its roots to 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson helped establish a week to raise awareness of African Americans’ contributions. The observance was expanded to a full month in 1976.
Since 1978, USPS has commemorated the occasion by releasing a Black Heritage stamp. This year’s stamp honors Constance Baker Motley, the first African American woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
African Americans have also made important contributions to the Postal Service throughout its history.
In the early 20th century, many African Americans found steady, valuable jobs in urban Post Offices.
In the 1960s, the number of African American employees promoted to supervisory positions grew exponentially, and African Americans were appointed as postmasters of the nation’s three largest Post Offices — New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
By the end of the 20th century, African Americans represented 21 percent of all postal employees, serving at all levels of USPS.
Today, approximately 29 percent of the Postal Service workforce is African American.
The usps.com postal history section has additional information, including articles about 19th-century and 20th-century African American postal employees.