Switch Discrimination

Charges of switch separation in the Post Office Department emerged in 1963 after three African Americans were elevated to manager positions at the Dallas, Texas, Post Office, over the heads of in excess of 50 more qualified white workers.

An authority of the United Federation of Postal Clerks noticed that the Dallas advancements “damaged the Post Office’s very own denials against racial separation” (Wall Street Journal, August 12, 1963, 1).

In August 1963 ten of the white representatives recorded a claim in government court asserting they had been oppressed on account of their race. After two months the Post Office Department disavowed the advancements, refering to a procedural mistake, yet kept the three African-American representatives on at a similar pay in an impermanent status, with a guarantee that they would be top priority for future advancements.

In 1966 African-American postmasters headed the country’s three-biggest Post Offices – New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles (see sidebar at right). Together, these workplaces took care of around 14 percent of the country’s mail volume, with 11 percent of its representatives. Chicago postmaster Henry McGee noted in 1967 that

“In my 38 years of postal administration I have seen conditions change from relatively total isolation to the present time where open doors for minority progression is constrained just to capacity and drive.”[81]

On April 29, 1969, Ronald B. Lee – some time ago the leader of the Post Office Department’s arranging and frameworks examination office – turned into the main African-American Assistant Postmaster General when he was designated Assistant Postmaster General of Planning and Marketing by President Richard M. Nixon.


Postal monitors discovered that the administrators working under Sydnor favored white representatives for “subtle elements” (at work preparing) in the Shops, accordingly guaranteeing that white workers would be the most qualified when positions opened up. The examiners detailed:

White representatives in the Mail Equipment Shops were set in positions fully expecting opportunities so when they really happened they were the main workers qualified by involvement for the employments, in this way demoralizing the Negroes from making applications.[76]

Following the examination, the Shops’ chief started a progression of restorative actions.[77]

In 1963 the Department started the year-long “Postmasters Program for Progress,” which necessitated that postmasters of workplaces with in excess of 125 representatives create and keep up a certifiable equivalent business opportunity program and that they submit month to month composed advancement reports. At a progression of meetings held at the University of Oklahoma that year, delegates from base camp and the postal districts trained key authorities, including postmasters of the biggest 313 Post Offices, to “purposely search out qualified Negroes for promotion.”[78]

The integration of postal offices was stretched out to exclusive structures in 1963, when the Post Office Department requested of all temporary workers who worked contract Post Office stations that “any administrations gave inside those premises must be accessible to the overall population on an equivalent basis.”[79]

VP Lyndon B. Johnson, in the interim, met with Postmaster General Day and 40 Texas postmasters at his Texas farm that July and by and by requested that they end any separation in their workplaces and to procure and advance minorities.

Somewhere in the range of 1962 and 1964, the level of boss employments held by African Americans ascended from 5 to 10. Somewhere in the range of 1961 and 1968, the level of best workers in the Post Office Department who were African-American rose from short of what one to around four percent.[80] In a similar period, the general portrayal of African Americans in the postal workforce expanded from around 15 to around 20 percent.