Above photo: The U.S. Postal Service is a significant force for employment equity in the United States, with high numbers of people of color and veterans in its ranks. Here, USPS carrier Henrietta Dixon delivers mail to a resident on her route, Alvin Fields, on May 6, 2020. Fields called Dixon “absolutely wonderful.” Matt Rourke / AP.
On Thursday, May 21, 80 cars lined up, in front of the Main Post Office in downtown Detroit, to thank Postal Workers, and to insist that the Post Office not be privatized.
For over an hour, cars circled the Post Office, with drivers blowing their horns and leaning out their windows to yell “Thank You” to the workers. Postal employees responded by smiling, fist pumping, and applauding as the cars drove by. One creative driver had stacked Priority Mail boxes on the roof of her car—just in case someone didn’t know that it was the Post Office the caravan was supporting.
The long caravan of cars sported signs with slogans, including:
We Love our Postal Workers!
Postal Workers are the Best!
No to Privatizing Our Post Offices!
Thanks, Post Office, for Hiring Vets and Folks with Disabilities!
Save the Postal Service!
Participants said that the action raised their spirits and made them feel they could have their voices heard even in the midst of a pandemic. Many said they were willing to participate in more such actions.
The idea to organize this event came from a group of eight gutsy Detroit women who had been meeting weekly on Zoom to discuss what kind of America they wanted to see emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. These women led the organizing of the car caravan in just 10 days.
Two of the organizers are retired postal workers, who knew all the issues faced by this essential American institution, including the push by President Trump and his administration to privatize it.
These retirees informed participants that 61 postal workers have died, over 4,300 are currently in quarantine, and over 20,000 have been directly impacted. They reminded caravanners of the special role the Post Office plays in assuring employment equity—15% of postal workers are veterans, 60% of whom have a disability rating, and USPS is one of the largest employers of men and women of color.
Since all the organizers had long histories of activism, they reached out to their friends and groups to join in the caravan. Among those groups were Lafayette Park Indivisible, the American Postal Workers Union, The Swords into Plowshares Peace Center, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, UAW, as well as retired educators and their unions. The success of this event makes it clear that more of us can organize actions, and that doing so is a boost to us all.